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Chinese astronauts return to Earth


A Chinese space capsule with three astronauts aboard has returned from a mission to an orbiting module.

The crew of the Shenzhou 9 landed safely this morning in the country's sprawling Inner Mongolia region.

China declared the 13-day mission to the Tiangong 1 prototype space station a major stride ahead for the country's ambitious space programme.

The crew included China's first female astronaut, 33-year-old Liu Yang.

The mission had included both remote control and piloted dockings with the module and extensive medical monitoring of the astronauts who had been living and working in the module as part of preparations for manning a permanent space station.