BEIJING (AP) _ China on Sunday launched a satellite that will carry out land surveying and other scientific projects for several days and return to Earth, government media reported.

The satellite blasted off at 3:50 p.m. local time atop a Long March 2C rocket from the Jiuquan space center in the country's desert northwest, the Xinhua News Agency said.

It was the 19th recoverable science satellite China has launched, the agency said. The report said the satellite would remain in orbit ``for a few days'' but didn't specify when it would return to Earth.

``The satellite is mainly for space scientific research, land surveying, mapping and other scientific experiments,'' Xinhua said, citing space officials.

China's space program, a key prestige project for the communist government, sent its first satellite into orbit in 1970 and last October launched its first manned flight.