JIUQUAN, Gansu. Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- China launched its third manned spacecraft on Thursday with three astronauts on board to attempt the country's first-ever space walk.
The spaceship Shenzhou-7 blasted off on a Long March II-F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern Gansu Province at 9:10 p.m. after a breathtaking countdown to another milestone on China's space journey.
Onboard fighter pilots Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng are expected to orbit the earth for multiple days, when one of them will float out of the cabin about 343 kilometers above the earth.
If they make it, China will become the third country in the world able to conduct extra-vehicular activity in space following the former Soviet Union and the United States.
Chinese president Hu Jintao watched the historic moment at the launch center, joined by Chinese experts and other work staff.