BEIJING, Oct. 18 -- World and regional leaders also congratulated China yesterday on the touchdown of Shenzhou VI, its second manned spaceship.
French President Jacques Chirac sent a message of congratulations on the successful return of Shenzhou VI, becoming the first foreign head of state to praise the spaceship's mission.
Foreign media also widely covered the successful landing.
"China affirmed its place in one of the world's most exclusive clubs with the expected conclusion Monday of a second manned space flight," The Christian Science Monitor, a US newspaper based in Boston, reported yesterday.
"More than four decades after the US and Soviet Union accomplished a similar feat, China can still lay claim to being only the third nation to put humans into orbit on its own."
"It was, as far as we know, what I'm sure they'd like to refer to as a picture-perfect mission," Agence France-Presse quoted Joan Johnson-Freese, an expert on China's space programme at the US Naval War College, as saying yesterday.
"Successful flights like Shenzhou VI build cohesiveness and reassure the people about their nation's social and economic potential," said Anthony Curtis, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, who follows China's space programme yesterday.
Beijing's next manned mission, including a spacewalk, will take off in 2007, followed by the establishment of an orbiting space station, which Curtis said would be feasible within five years.
Leroy Chiao, a US astronaut with Chinese ancestry, told China Daily yesterday that there is a possibility for the United States and China to co-operate on exploring space.
He said in a telephone interview yesterday: "I would like to see opportunities for the two countries to embark on co-operation personally."
(Source: China Daily)