A Chinese rocket on Saturday successfully launched a Venezuelan earth-observation satellite into orbit, state media said.

The satellite, dubbed "Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda" after the major Venezuelan independence figure, was launched from the northwest Jiuquan base in the Gobi desert using a 'Long March' class rocket, said Xinhua.

The launch comes four years after the first-ever Venezuelan satellite, named "Simon Bolivar" , which was built with Chinese help, was also put into orbit using a Chinese rocket.

Last year, Venezuela announced the new $140 million satellite would be used to monitor troop movements on the country's borders and illegal mining, as well as study climate change and the environment.

The two countries have forged close economic ties in recent years as leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has sought to reduce dependence on Washington, with top officials overseeing agreements worth billions of dollars in the oil, energy, construction, and technology sectors.

They signed an agreement last week to develop together Las Cristinas in southern Venezuela, one of the world's biggest gold mines, with plans to exploit both the yellow metal and cooper there.

Beijing has extended some $30 billion in credit to Caracas, and Venezuela in turn sells some 640,000 barrels of oil a day to China.