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.
China will attempt its first space docking between two unmanned vehicles this year, the first step in efforts to build a Chinese space station, a senior official said Friday.Yang Liwei detailed the next stages of China's human spaceflight programme during a press visit to Space City in Beijing, a research and training centre normally closed to the public."Our next goal is to realise a space docking of two vehicles during the second half of 2011," said Yang, whose journey into space in 2003 made him the first Chinese astronaut.