China launches spacecraft

Last updated at 16:20
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China has launched a spacecraft into orbit as part of its plan to build a space station by 2020.

The Shenzhou 8 travelled into space on top of a rocket on Monday.

The spacecraft will try and join up with a space lab, the Tiangong-1, which was launched by China in September.

Chinese space experts now have to wait a few days to see whether the spacecraft and lab are in the right position to link together.

Both vehicles will use radar and optical sensors to find out where they are so they can attempt to join up 340km above the Earth.

They'll then spend 12 days circling the planet before separating, and the spacecraft will return to earth.

A box containing fish, plants, worms, bacteria and even human cancer cells has been sent into orbit and it will be analysed after the spacecraft comes back to earth.

China has invested billions of dollars in its space programme.

The country has already launched two satellites to the moon and a third mission is expected.

If this launch is successful, another two spacecrafts with astronauts onboard will be blasted into orbit.

Eventually Chinese astronauts, who are also known as yuhangyuans, are expected to live onboard the spacecrafts for up to two weeks.