The two astronauts of China’s second manned space flight emerged smiling from their capsule after it landed in Mongolia at the end of a successful mission.
Their five-day odyssey orbiting Earth has furthered Beijing’s claims to be a major player in the space race. It also unleashed a tide of patriotic fervour.
Fei Julon and Nie Haisheng are the new national icons, feted in ticker-tape parades like the pioneering American and Russian astronauts.
China has run its ambitious Shenzou space programme on a fraction of Nasa’s budget.
State media have focused mainly on the economic benefits that the programme is expected to reap for China’s people.