• Kyodo

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China’s Shenzhou 11 manned spacecraft successfully separated from the orbiting Tiangong 2 space laboratory on Thursday to return to Earth with its two astronauts having completed the country’s longest manned space mission to date, the China Manned Space Agency said.

The Shenzhou 11, carrying the astronauts, was launched in October and docked with the laboratory, in which the astronauts conducted experiments.

The spacecraft is scheduled to land in the fields of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region on Friday.

It was China’s sixth manned mission as part of the country’s efforts to turn itself into a space power by 2030. If all goes well, it will likely serve as an important stepping stone for China toward its goal of completing its own space station by around 2020.

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