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China's Shenzhou-10 astronauts back on earth

Three Chinese astronauts on the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft landed safely after a 15-day mission to China's orbiting Tiangong-1 laboratory.

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The Long March-2F rocket carrying China's Shenzhou-10 spacecraft blasts off at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 11, 2013 in Jiuquan, Gansu Province of China. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

Three Chinese astronauts on a 15-day mission to the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1 space laboratory returned safely to Earth on Wednesday, touching down in Inner Mongolia.

Aboard the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, astronauts Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping conducted manual docking exercises and returned home to conclude China's fifth manned space mission since 2003.

After a successful launch, Wang — China's second woman in space — delivered a lecture from the craft on the effects of weightlessness.

"This mission made me realize two dreams: my dream of flying to outer space, and my dream of being a teacher," Wang told CCTV. "If you have a dream, you can succeed."

Haisheng, commander of the mission, said after the landing: "Space is our dream, the fatherland is our home. Thanks to all compatriots who supported us and best wishes for the wealth and success of our fatherland and the ever greater happiness of our people."

But while many prasied what Wang Zhaoyao, director of China's space program, called a perfect mission, the space progam itself received some criticism. China's Global Times tabloid questioned whether money spent on the space program might be better used in other areas.

"Currently, China's passion to develop space technology mainly lingers at the government level. Some even blame the government for political vanity and question whether the money couldn't be spent improving people's livelihoods," an editorial in the tabloid said.

Beijing hopes to have a working space station by 2020, and government engineers have suggested China may try to land on the Moon. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/130626/chinas-shenzhou-10-astronauts-back-earth