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China Celebrates First Manned Space Mission - 2003-10-16


China has celebrated the completion of its first manned space mission by declaring the country's first astronaut a hero and pledging a new mission within two years.

Shortly after returning to Earth early today (Thursday), astronaut Yang Liwei said he felt good after a successful mission. His spacecraft landed in China's northern Inner Mongolia region after orbiting the Earth 14 times in about 20 hours.

The head of China's manned space program (Li Jinai) called Colonel Yang a space hero, and President Hu Jintao called his accomplishment a historic step for the Chinese people.

Just hours after the successful completion of the mission, China's space agency said the nation will be ready to send up another manned space flight in the next two years. It also announced plans for a space walk and the eventual establishment of a permanent space station.

Many other countries, including the United States, Russia, Japan and Britain, applauded the space mission, which made China just the third country to send a man into orbit.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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