China sends European satellite to orbit

China has successfully launched a European-made satellite into orbit, Xinhua News Agency announced earlier this week.

Made by Thales Alenia Space, the satellite will ensure telecommunications services for clients in Europe, Asia and Africa, according to the agency. No customers have been named.

The satellite is said to have reached its orbit and is operating normally after takeoff on Tuesday from China's southwestern province of Sichuan. It was sent to space atop a Long March-3B rocket.

Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture of French-ownde defence electronics company Thales, and the Italian Finmeccanica, an aerospace and defence industry giant.

Satellite launches are an important part of China's space programme. Earlier this year, the country sent its first female astronaut into space.

Last month, a Chinese rocket was also responsible for launching a Venezuealan satellite.

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