CARACAS, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday hailed China's launch of the South American nation's satellite as a "historic event" key to furthering national independence.

The satellite was launched into orbit a little past midnight Caracas time Monday, from China's satellite launch center in Jiuquan, in northwest Gansu province.

Maduro celebrated the development as a milestone for national independence.

"It is a historic event, unimaginable. This is technological independence that we are gaining ... with our brothers from the People's Republic of China," said Maduro.

The satellite, named in honor of Venezuelan-born independence hero Antonio Jose de Sucre, is the third satellite the two countries have jointly launched into space.

Vice President Tareck El Aissami said the Sucre will allow Venezuela to optimize its ground observation systems and make strides in agriculture, mining and oil exploration, among other things.

Weighing nearly a ton, the 1.6-meter-long and 2.1-meter-tall satellite will orbit in sync with the sun at an approximate distance of 645 km from the earth, providing high resolution images that can be used to monitor and assess resources, as well as natural disasters and urban development.

"The launching of this technological instrument is possible thanks to the close ties of cooperation and integration" between China and Venezuela, the Ministry of Communication and Information said in a statement.

Venezuela's previous two satellites, the Simon Bolivar and Francisco de Miranda, were launched in cooperation with China in 2008 and 2012, respectively.