Spacecraft lifted off about 01:22 GMT on Thursday from northwest China further boosting the country’s space programme to rival the US.
China has successfully launched the Shenzhou-12 – its first manned mission in five years – further accelerating its space programme to rival the United States.
Shenzhou-12, meaning “Divine Vessel”, lifted off at about 01:22 GMT on Thursday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, according to the live video broadcast on state television, CCTV.
The launch was carried with a Long March-2F carrier rocket.
The spacecraft carried three male astronauts – Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo.
In the CCTV live video, two of the three astronauts made an “OK” hand signal as Shenzhou crossed the Earth’s atmosphere and following the critical separation of the four boosters.
After entering orbit, the spaceship will conduct a fast automated “rendezvous and docking with the in-orbit space station core module Tianhe”, according to CCTV.
The astronauts will be stationed in the core module and remain in orbit for three months.
China began construction of the space station this year with the launch of Tianhe – the first and largest of the station’s three modules – in late April.
Nie, who comes from central Hubei province and is a former air force pilot, is the lead of the mission.
The Shenzhou-12 is Nie’s third space outing, after the Shenzhou-6 mission in 2005 and the Shenzhou-10 mission in 2013, according to the Xinhua news agency.
It is Liu’s second mission to space, his first being the Shenzhou-7 mission in 2008, which featured a landmark spacewalk. It is Tang’s first journey into space.
China’s last crewed flight mission was in 2016 when two men – Chen Dong and Jing Haipeng – were sent via the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft to Tiangong-2, a prototype of the space station where they later stayed for about a month.
Beijing’s aim is for the country to become a major spacefaring power by 2030, turning space into the newest frontier of its rivalry with the United States.
In May, it became the second country to put a rover on Mars, two years after landing the first spacecraft on the far side of the moon.