Tiangong-1 rocket launch
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China launches Tiangong-1 space lab into orbit

29 September 2011 Last updated at 18:18 BST

A rocket carrying China's first space laboratory, Tiangong-1, has launched from the north of the country.

The Long March vehicle lifted clear from the Jiuquan spaceport in the Gobi Desert.

The rocket's ascent took the lab out over the Pacific, and on a path to an orbit some 350km above the Earth.

The 10.5m-long, cylindrical module will be unmanned for the time being, but the country's astronauts, or yuhangyuans, are expected to visit it next year.

Martin Patience reports.