Experiment box back to lab after space voyage

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The German-made experiment box aboard on China's unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou 8 returned to a Beijing lab early Friday, a few hours after the successful retrieval of the re-entry module.

The SIMBOX, or Science in Microgravity Box which contained 17 experiments conducted by Chinese and German scientists and traveled in space for 17 days, was air transported to Beijing at midnight from a grassland 600 kilometers away from the Chinese capital.

Scientists have taken the SIMBOX, harboring experiments on space biology, bio-engineering and life-supporting mechanism, to the Chinese Academy of Sciences lab.

China for the first time allowed foreign experiments operated in the Chinese space vessel, Shenzhou-8 which successfully docked twice with a target orbiter Tiangong-1, a space lab prototype.

Ground monitoring indicated that the SIMBOX was functioning well during flight. It is required that the experiment box has to arrive at the lab within 7.5 hours after it is taken out of the spacecraft.

The Chinese and German scientists collaborated in the space experiments, with the German side being responsible of making the experiment box and the Chinese providing electricity supply and devices connecting the box with the spacecraft.

Among the 17 experiments on microbe metabolism, plant genes and proteins and human glioma cells, the Chinese dominated 10, the German six and the rest one for both.

The experiments were agreed by the China Manned Space Program office and the German Aerospace Center in May 2008.

After two successful docking attempts with Tiangong-1, Shenzhou-8 safely landed in north China at around 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

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