posted on Oct, 15 2003 @ 06:19 AM
Well look like they done it.
Wonder if this is the beginning of a new space race?
China has successfully launched its first manned space flight, becoming only the third country to put a man into orbit.
Astronaut Yang Liwei told the team on the ground: "I feel good, see you tomorrow."
The Shenzhou V rocket - "divine ship" in Chinese - blasted off from the Gobi desert at 0200BST.
It is carrying just one "taikonaut" - 38-year-old Yang. He will orbit the earth 14 times before returning on Thursday.
Until now only America and the former Soviet Union have put men into space.
China's Communist Party chief and state president Hu Jintao hailed the launch as an "historic step" for the country.
A veil of secrecy surrounded the launch and the ruling Communist party would not allow the blast-off to be televised live.
The mission has been a long time coming.
China's space programme was launched by Mao Zedong in 1958 but soon fell behind the United States and the Soviet Union.
By 1969 the US had put a man on the moon - the Chinese only managed to launch their first satellite the following year.
It was carried into space by a Long March rocket which orbited the earth blaring out the Cultural Revolution anthem The East is Red.
Yang, a lieutenant-colonel in the People's Liberation Army, was selected from a shortlist of 14 candidates.
He is the son of a teacher and an official at an agricultural firm.
[Edited on 15-10-2003 by Kalistenics]