China latest manned spacecraft has taken off as the country continues efforts to develop a space station.
The crew of three, which includes China’s second female astronaut, are on the Shenzhou 10 which blasted off from a remote site in the Gobi desert.
The 15-day mission will be the longest time Chinese astronauts have spent in space and China’s President oversaw the launch personally.
“You are the pride of the Chinese people and this mission is both glorious and sacred,” he said.
Once in orbit, the craft will dock with the Tiangong 1, a trial space laboratory module in order for the crew to practice manual and automatic dockings.
China’s space programme has come a long way since 1949 when its late leader Mao Zedong lamented that the country could not even launch a potato into space.
Now Beijing has raised the possibility of a manned moon mission, but not before 2020.