Sweden gives hero's welcome to its 1st man in space

Sweden on Thursday gave a hero's welcome to its first astronaut, Christer Fuglesang, as he arrived home following a 13-day NASA mission to the International Space Station.

Fuglesang, whose space journey drew immense interest in Sweden, was greeted by dozens of students, fans and journalists as he arrived at Arlanda airport.

"Welcome home to a Sweden that is full of pride and joy over what you have accomplished," Deputy Prime Minister Maud Olofsson said at a televised unveiling of a portrait of Fuglesang to be displayed in an airport terminal.

Fuglesang was then greeted by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt at the government building in downtown Stockholm before lunch with the entire Cabinet.

On Friday, he will dine with Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia at the royal castle to tell them about his experiences in space, reports AP.

Fuglesang said he had been overwhelmed by the high interest in his mission, which for weeks was front-page material in Swedish newspapers for weeks.

"I have felt the enormous support and interest you have shown for this trip," Fuglesang said. "I hope this can increase the interest for space, technology and natural sciences in Sweden ... so that we can improve our technological edge."

Fuglesang was part of a Discovery crew that repaired and rewired the space station and delivered U.S. astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams to the orbiting outpost for a six-month stay.

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