China has just gotten back from an historic 15 day training mission in space, marking a series of leaps and bounds in earth's orbit. They say their recent emphasis on space is for economic and military purposes, and the U.S. definitely notices. From USA Today:
China is to send its second woman astronaut into orbit on its longest mission yet, space officials said Monday, as the country works towards building a space station. The Shenzhou-10 -- the name means "Divine Vessel" -- will be launched on a Long March rocket at 0938 GMT Tuesday, Wu Ping, spokeswoman for China's manned space programme, told a news conference.
Three Chinese astronauts on Monday entered an orbiting module for the first time, in a move broadcast live on China's state television network and a key step towards the nation's first space station.The astronauts, two men and a woman, passed into the Tiangong-1 ("Heavenly Palace") module a little under three hours after it docked with the Shenzhou-9 ("Divine Vessel") spacecraft.The Shenzhou-9 took off Saturday carrying the first Chinese woman to go into space, before undergoing the third automatic docking China has ever performed, and the first for a manned mission.
The US space shuttle Discovery successfully linked up with the International Space Station Wednesday, easing into a docking node.Mission commander Alan Poindexter delicately steered his big ship into place at 0744 GMt, 215 miles (344 kilometers) over the Caribbean, NASA said."Houston and station, capture confirmed," the shuttle commander radioed after docking the shuttle to the space station, the destination of Discover's 13-day resupply mission.It was greeted with the sound of bells and the message, "Discovery arriving," apparently radioed from the space station.
BEIJING — China launched its first rover mission to the moon on Monday, sending a robotic craft named Jade Rabbit to trundle across the lunar landscape, examine its geology and beam images back to Earth.
A rocket carrying the rover aboard an unmanned Chang’e 3 spaceship successfully blasted off early Monday from a launch centre in southwestern China and was scheduled to arrive on the moon in mid-December, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Hours ago, China's lunar probe Chang'e-3, carrying the nation's first moon rover onboard, successfully landed on the moon, making it the first time China has sent a spacecraft to soft land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body, joining only the US and the former Soviet Union in accomplishing such a feat. Chang'e-3 is the world's first soft-landing of a probe on the moon in nearly four decades. The last such soft-landing was carried out by the Soviet Union in 1976.