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Shenzhou 7 blasts off in space!

HONG KONG (BNS): China launched its third manned spacecraft on Thursday with three astronauts on board to attempt the country's first-ever space walk, Xinhua reported.

Chinese president Hu Jintao watched the historic moment at the launch center, joined by Chinese experts and other work staff, Xinhua said.

China is all set to become the third country to conduct a space walk after the US and Russia.

All three Chinese taikonauts had entered the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft at 18.28 pm Thursday, about three hours ahead of its scheduled launch, according to Xinhua.

The three astronauts entered the spacecraft after a see-off ceremony at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Northwest China.

Before entering Shenzhou 7, they also met their president who had some encouraging words to say to them.

“With strong support of the whole nation, thorough preparations of various sectors, rigorous training and sophisticated skills of yourselves, I believe you will have a complete success in this glorious and sacred mission,” President Hu Jintao reportedly told the trio.

"The motherland and people are waiting for your triumphant return," he said.

According to reports, the team then plugged their spacesuits to the re-entry module of the craft and checked the communication system with the ground control after reviewing the operation manual of the spaceship.

The Shenzhou-7 blasted off from the Center today between 2107 hrs and 2227 hrs.

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