BEIJING (AFP) - China said Tuesday it will launch its Tiangong-1 space module later this month, marking its first step towards building a Chinese space station. The Asian giant sees its space programme as a symbol of its global stature, growing technical expertise, and the Communist Partys success in turning around the fortunes of the formerly poverty-stricken nation. It had originally planned to place the unmanned Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace, in orbit last year, but was forced to delay the move for technical reasons. A spokesman for the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the northwestern province of Gansu, who refused to be named, told AFP the module will be launched some time between September 27 and 30, just ahead of Chinas National Day on October 1. According to the official Xinhua news agency, both Tiangong-1 and the Long March 2-F rocket that will take the module into space are already in place on a launch platform at the centre. Weighing eight tonnes, the module is due to stay in orbit around earth for two years.