At 1800 local time (1000 GMT) the Long March-5B carrier rocket took off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern Hainan island province. It was the first Long March-5B mission, CCTV reported, citing the China Manned Space Engineering Office.
The Long March-5B was also carrying an inflatable cargo return module, with a length of about 53.7 meters and a takeoff mass of about 849 tonnes.
In March, China said it aimed to launch an experimental spacecraft without a crew as part of a wider spaceflight program for shuttling astronauts to its future space station and future manned space exploration. The launch was scheduled for earlier mid- to late April.
China is aiming to complete an inhabited, multi-module space station around 2022. After the former Soviet Union and the United States in 2003 it became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket.
Since then China has been racing to catch up with Russia and the U.S. to become a major space power by 2030.