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China's new spacecraft returns to Earth: official

This photo taken on May 5 shows a Long March 5B rocket lifting off from the Wenchang launch site on China's southern Hainan island
This photo taken on May 5 shows a Long March 5B rocket lifting off from the Wenchang launch site on China's southern Hainan island STR AFP/File
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Beijing (AFP)

China's new prototype spacecraft "successfully landed" on Friday, marking an important step in its ambitions to run a permanent space station and send astronauts to the moon.

The spacecraft -- which was launched Tuesday -- arrived safely at a predetermined site, the China Manned Space Agency said, after a hitch in an earlier part of the key test.

It said the cabin structure of the spacecraft had been confirmed on site as being intact.

The test vessel was launched with a cargo capsule aboard a new type of carrier rocket from the Wenchang launch site on the southern island of Hainan.

The space agency said the vessel was in orbit for two days and 19 hours and had completed a number of experiments.

Its return has also verified the spacecraft's capabilities such as its heat resistance.

It is hoped the spaceship will one day transport astronauts to a space station that China plans to complete by 2022 -- and eventually to the Moon.

Friday's safe landing follows a snag in an earlier part of the test when an unspecified "anomaly" occurred during the return of the cargo capsule.

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