“Is China going to be the new space superpower?” Orak wondered out loud.

“What makes you say that?” Scorch said.

“On June 5, three Chinese astronauts landed on the new Chinese space station called Tiangong. They are on a six-month mission on the space station. It’s only the latest step in China’s goals towards space exploration,” Orak said.

“What are China’s goals?” said Verum.

Orak answered, “To understand China’s plans, we need to understand why the country is in the race. Let’s start with the International Space Station (ISS). ISS is a space station run by the United States (US), Russia, Europe, Canada, and Japan. It has been orbiting the Earth since November 20, 1998. But it will be inoperative from 2031. The Chinese astronauts are not a part of the ISS and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the US space agency, doesn’t share any space data with China.

So, China intends to make the Tiangong space station a success. It hopes Tiangong will replace the ISS. It plans to add a science lab to the space station. Tiangong will have its own power. It will have life support systems and a place for astronauts to live. China will also launch a space telescope called Xuntian next year.”

“All great plans!” Felix noted.

“Yes. China also plans to take samples from asteroids. Asteroids are rocky objects that orbit the Sun. By 2030, China wants to put its first astronauts on the Moon. It also plans to collect samples from the planets, Mars and Jupiter.

Even in the past, China has led many successful space missions. It has launched more than 200 rockets in the last 10 years. It has already collected samples from the Moon. Till now, it has sent 14 astronauts into space,” informed Orak.

Orak added, “In fact, China is only the third country to do both – put astronauts into space and build a space station!”

“I guess there’s no stopping China when it comes to space exploration!” Verum said.