27 Jun 2013

Chinese astronauts return to earth

5:00 am on 27 June 2013

A capsule carrying three Chinese astronauts landed safely on Wednesday after a 15-day mission in space.

The astronauts travelled on the Shenzhou-10 craft to China's space laboratory, the Tiangong-1.

Shenzhou-10 was China's fifth manned space mission. The BBC reports it is 10 years since China first sent an astronaut into space.

A working space lab, the Tiangong 2, is to be put into orbit in two years.

State television showed the capsule touching down in grassland in the Inner Mongolia region about 8.07am (local time) on Wednesday.

Mission commander Nie Haisheng was the first to exit the capsule at 9.31am, followed by Wang Yaping and Zhang Xiaoguang.

Yaping gave a video lecture to students on Earth during the flight.

Commander Nie, who has been on one previous space mission, has now spent more hours in space than any other Chinese astronaut. Xinhua news agency said he has clocked up over 470 hours on his two missions.