The launch of China's latest manned space mission on Tuesday was a “complete success”, the nation's space agency said, with the Shenzhou-16 spacecraft docking with the nation's space station about seven hours after taking off.
About 10 minutes after blast-off at about 9.30am, Shenzhou-16 separated from the Long March-2F carrier rocket and entered its designated orbit.
The China Manned Space Agency then declared the launch a complete success and said that crew members Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao were in good shape.
In the afternoon, the space agency said the Shenzhou-16 craft had successfully docked with the Tiangong space station.
Dozens of employees from the space programme, many of whom live year-round on the huge Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center site, attended the launch, snapping selfies with the rocket in the background.
Children played as they waited for the launch, some waving national flags as they sat on their parents' shoulders.
Spectators let out a loud "wow", shouting "good luck" and waving as the rocket took off in a cloud of ochre smoke.
The Shenzhou-16 crew will relieve three colleagues from the Shenzhou-15 flight, who have been at the station for six months and will return to Earth in the coming days.
The Shenzhou-16 mission is the 29th since the country's manned space programme began. The launch also marks the 475th flight mission of the Long March carrier rocket series. (Xinhua/AFP)
Last updated: 2023-05-30 HKT 16:47