China has launched its first manned space flight, becoming only the third country to put a man into orbit.
Lift-off from the Gobi desert was at 9:00am local time (11:00am AEST), the start of a mission that it is hoped will rocket China into the exclusive space club pioneered by the former Soviet Union and United States four decades ago.
A Long March 2F rocket called the Shenzhou V - "divine ship" in Chinese - carried a single "taikonaut" named Yang Liwei, 38, following a trail blazed by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and American Alan Shepard in 1961.
"I feel good and my conditions are normal," Xinhua quotes Lieutenant-Colonel Yang as saying.
Chinese state television says the spacecraft has entered Earth orbit.
The rocket is to orbit the Earth 14 times before returning after about 21 hours.
Wednesday, 15 October 2003
From the ABC :