China launches spacecraft via largest carrier rocket

It was the first mission carried out by the Long March-5B, CCTV reported.

The Long March-5B - with a length of about 53.7 metres and takeoff mass of about 849 tonnes - was also carrying an inflatable cargo return module.

China said in March it was aiming to launch an experimental spacecraft without a crew as part of a broader spaceflight program to shuttle astronauts to its future space station and for future manned space exploration. The launch was earlier scheduled for mid- to late April.

China has since been racing to catch up with Russia and the United States to become a major space power by 2030.

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