BEIJING, Oct. 17 (Xinhua/chinadaily.com.cn)-- The return module of China's second manned spacecraft Shenzhou VI has returned to the Earth, and the astronauts are safe.
The module and astronauts touched down in the main landing field in Central Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at 4:33 A.M. Monday after a five-day flight.
Fei Junlong got out of the return module by himself first, followed by Nie Haisheng.
The two said they were in good conditions when answering questions from journalists.
The two People's Liberation Army colonels received a hero's welcome. Jubilant residents in Nie's home town in central Hubei province set off firecrackers and performed traditional lion dances.
Fei's mother wept on learning of his safe return, and his father declared "The motherland is so great!".
State television showed the astronauts emerging from Shenzhou VI unaided, pausing atop the charred reentry craft to wave to the recovery team.
Chen Bingde, chief of China's manned space project, declares the mission a complete success.
The return moduel landed one kilometer away from target, and six kilometers from the Shenzhou V landing site.
An artistic rendering shows the return module of the Shenzhou VI spacecraft touches down in the main landing field in Central Inner Mongolia this morning. [Xinhua]
The two men are expected to be taken by helicopter to a local airport to board a flight to Beijing. Both will be in isolation for observation for 14 days after the mission, but family members will be allowed to visit, the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper said Sunday.
Fei and Nie blasted off Wednesday on China's second manned space mission. It came almost exactly two years after China's first manned space flight.
China is only the third country to send humans into orbit on its own, after Russia and the United States.
State television showed scores of technicians monitoring the landing at computer screens at a Beijing control center. They showed no reaction when an announcer said the capsule had landed but broke into cheers after word came that the astronauts were safe, the Associated Press reported.
Chinese leaders including top legislator Wu Bangguo were shown on television watching the landing from the control center.
The mission had "accomplished the planned experiments and accumulated valuable technical data," Xinhua said Sunday.
"We feel good, our work is going smoothly and our life is happy," Fei was quoted as saying Sunday evening before the craft began its re-entry maneuvers. "We will do our utmost to fulfill the mission."
"We're grateful for the deep love and concern by all Chinese people, the Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan compatriots," Nie said.
Shenzhou 6 orbited the Earth 76 times and traveled more than 1.9 million miles.
The mission was substantially longer and more complex than the 2003 flight, when astronaut Yang Liwei orbited for 21 1/2 hours before his capsule landed by parachute.