China launches first mobile telecoms satellite from Beijing

People with a Chinese flag retrieving a module from the desert, 26 June 2016 Image copyright Xinhua/AP
Image caption China's space programme has accelerated lately - last month, workers recovered an experimental probe that was launched on a new generation rocket

China has launched its first mobile telecommunications satellite.

The Tiantong-01 satellite will establish a mobile network serving China, the Middle East, Africa and other areas, the state run Xinhua news agency reported.

It was sent into space after midnight local time in Beijing (16:00 GMT) on Sunday.

The ground service will be operated by China Telecom, which is owned by the Chinese state.

The country is also preparing for the next round of its manned space mission.

China's science revolution

On Saturday two launch rockets arrived at a launch centre in northwest China. They will carry a second module of the country's planned space station - replacing Tiangong 1 which has ended its service - and a staffed spacecraft called Shenzou-11.

China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, and since then has taken huge advancements.

The head designer of China's lunar missions told the BBC earlier this year that China plans to settle on the Moon and explore Mars.

The country's space programme is led by the military.

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