China's Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, carrying the country's first ever female astronaut along with her two male colleagues, has set off for the stars. It blasted off earlier from the steppes of Gansu province in the north west, to cheers from a crowd at a special seeing-off ceremony. The three astronauts will have to link up with Beijing's laboratory module, that's been in orbit since last September. They will conduct scientific tests and are expected to return home in around 10 days. Beijing hopes to establish its own permanent station in orbit by the end of the decade.