China has taken the next step in its ambitious space program by successfully launching the first part of a permanent orbiting station.
The BBC's Stephen McDonell reports from Beijing.
Cheers from space program staff were broadcast live on television here as China's most powerful rocket, the Long March 5B, blasted off from Hainan island.
It was carrying the first module of a space station, the future living quarters for three crew.
Over the coming months, it's estimated that a total of 11 missions will be needed to construct it, including four with astronauts on board and four carrying cargo.
Two more main modules will need to be connected.
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