station of its own by 2020.
Watched by President Xi Jinping, Shenzhou-10 (Divine Craft) spaceship carrying the three astronauts blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert for a 15-day-long mission during
which it would dock with Tiangong-1 space lab orbiting round the Earth and conduct a host of experiments.
"I now announce the launch was a great success," said Zhang Youxia, the manned space programme's chief commander.
The text-book launch of Shenzhou-10, atop an upgraded Long March-2F carrier rocket, was telecast live. While state-run newspapers gave the mission blanket coverage.
China is eyeing to join a select club of countries which have carried out more than one manned space missions. At present, the US and Russia are the other two nations to send independently maintained space stations into orbit.