POSTED: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 7:55am
UPDATED: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 8:31am
A Chinese spaceship blasted off Tuesday from a launch center in the Gobi Desert, carrying three astronauts on what is expected to be the country's longest crewed mission yet.
Propelled by a Long March-2F rocket, the Shenzhou 10 craft is scheduled to dock with the Tiangong-1 space module where the crew will transfer supplies to the space lab, which has been in orbit since September 2011.
China has stepped up the pace of its space program since first sending astronaut Yang Liwei into orbit in 2003. In 2012, it conducted 18 space launches, according to the Pentagon.
Tuesday's launch is the start of China's fifth crewed space mission.