Liu Yang (inset), China’s first female astronaut was this afternoon June 16, 2012, launched into space at a departure ceremony at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at Gobi, in the desert province of Gansu.
It was a surge of national pride as the rising power takes its latest step towards putting a space station in orbit within the decade. Liu, a 33-year-old fighter pilot, joined two other astronauts aboard the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft when it lifted off from a remote Gobi Desert launch site on Saturday evening.
She is to work on a temporary space station for about a week with her colleagues (Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang) in a key step toward becoming only the third nation to set up a permanent base in orbit.
The picture above with female astronaut inset is the “Long March” rocket as it blasted off from the remote Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in China’s northwestern Gobi Desert, carrying with it the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft and three astronauts.