China on Saturday launched its fourth manned spacecraft, Shenzhou -9, that carried its first female astronaut into the space.
Shenzhou-9 was launched at 6:37 pm (1037 GMT) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center located at the Gobi Desert.
Female astronaut Liu Yang and two other male astronauts Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang are onboard the spacecraft for the first manned space docking test.
The main task that will be performed is to conduct a manual docking test between the spacecraft and the orbiting space lab module Tiangong-1, Wu Ping, said the program´s spokeswoman.
President Hu Jintao congratulated the team for the successful launch of the spacecraft.