China has successfully launched its first lunar probe in its most ambitious bid yet for a presence in space. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.
China sent its Chang'e 1 lunar probe into space Wednesday night from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in eastern Sichuan Province.
National television broadcast the countdown and launch.
The unmanned probe is expected to enter the moon's orbit on November 1. There it will begin mapping the surface of the moon and conduct other explorations over a period of about a year.
The satellite is part of a program aimed at putting an unmanned vehicle on the moon by 2012 and eventually sending humans there.
China promotes its space program as a peaceful and scientific enterprise but raised considerable international concern when it destroyed an old satellite with a missile-launched weapon earlier this year.
China in 2003 became the third country in the world to send a man in to space.