Sept. 29 - China's experimental spacecraft Tiangong 1 successfully blasts into space, paving the way for the nation's first space station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
(ROUGH CUT-NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: China successfully launched an experimental craft paving the way for its first space station on Thursday amid a blaze of national pride, bringing the growing Asian power closer to matching the United States and Russia with a long-term manned outpost in space. The Tiangong 1, or "Heavenly Palace", blasted off from a remote site in the Gobi Desert at 9:16 pm (1316 GMT), adding a high-tech sheen to China's National Day celebrations on October 1. Premier Wen Jiabao watched as the small, unmanned "space lab" and the Long March rocket that heaved it skyward from a pad at Jiuquan in northwest Gansu province, lifted off under clear skies, in images shown live on state television. President Hu Jintao joined a group of senior leaders to watch the launch live from the Beijing space center control room, where triumphant applause broke out as the technicians announced a successful launch. The launch is the latest show of China's growing prowess in space and comes while budget restraints and shifting priorities have held back U.S. manned space launches.