tuxlove writes "Space.com reports that China has just successfully launched its first manned space mission. "Blasting off from a remote space base in the Gobi Desert atop a Long March 2F rocket, a single Chinese astronaut named Yang Liwei is on his way to circle the planet every 90 minutes aboard the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft. As a result, China has become only the third nation on Earth capable of independently launching its citizens into orbit. " Perhaps this will kick the US space program back into gear?" aerojad points to this Reuters report, about which he says "The article is short on details, aside from 'Xinhua said the craft carried astronaut Yang Liwei, 38. The launch on Wednesday, 42 years after the Soviet Union put the first man into space, marked a milestone for China's secretive space programme, which analysts say has its sights set on a manned mission to the moon.' The mission is due to end in 21 hours." zxm adds a link to China Daily's coverage, and puiwah to a story on MSNBC.