posted at 06:50
Author: The Associated Press
Chinese spacecraft returns after flying around the moon
BEIJING - China on Saturday successfully recovered an experimental spacecraft that flew around the moon and back in a test run for the country's first unmanned return trip to the lunar surface. China plans to send a spacecraft to the moon in 2017 and have it return to Earth after collecting soil samples. China's lunar exploration program has already launched a pair of orbiting lunar probes and last year landed a craft on the moon with a rover onboard. China has also hinted at a possible crewed mission to the moon at a future date if officials decide to combine the human spaceflight and lunar exploration programs. China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, becoming the third nation after Russia and the U.S. to achieve manned space travel independently. China's program has received Russian assistance but has developed independently of America's, which is now in its sixth decade of putting people into space and has long-term plans to go to an asteroid and Mars. Alongside the manned and lunar programs, China is developing the Long March 5 heavier-lift rocket needed to launch a more permanent space station to be called Tiangong 2. What do you think of China's moon mission? Let us know in the comments.

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