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Chinese Spacecraft Returns To Earth Safely

Chinese Astronauts Touch Down After 15-Day Mission
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China's longest manned space mission has ended successfully.

The Shenzhou-10 spacecraft and its three crew members touched down in northern China on June 26.

The 15-day mission was seen as crucial to moving forward China's ambitious space plans, including building its own permanent space station and putting a person on the moon.

While in orbit, the Shenzhou-10 docked with China's orbiting space module Tiangong-1.

On June 24, President Xi Jinping spoke to the crew via video call.

According to the Xinhua news agency, Xi told the crew, "The space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger."

China first sent a human into space only in 2003 and its capabilities still lag behind the United States and Russia.

Based on reporting by AFP and Al-Jazeera