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50 years after US moon landing, China is catching up in the space race



The fierce space race between the United States and the Soviet Union had left behind Beijing, which launched its first manned space flight in 2003, more than 40 years after NASA's achievement.

But in recent decades, China has grown richer and more powerful, its space program has accelerated.

Buoyed by billions of dollars in government investment, Beijing has fired space labs and satellites into orbit and become the first country to send unmanned rovers to the far side of the moon .

Private Chinese companies are also investing in space research and technology, with the country's first successful private rocket launch taking place in May 2018.

Even greater ambitions are on the horizon ̵

1; Beijing is working toward sending astronauts to the moon and, eventually, Mars.

"China is just bigger than everyone else – they have more engineers, they have more scientists," said Blaine Curcio, founder of Hong Kong -based space industry research firm Orbital Gateway Consulting.

"The implication is that, they are probably getting better at scale, they are probably going to be the leading power at some point. It's just a matter of time. "

'We too shall make satellites'

At the start of the space race in the late 1950s, Communist party founder Mao Zedong declared:" We too shall make satellites. "

The East is Red 1 – on April 24, 1970, at the peak of the Cultural Revolution Xinhua.

China's space.

China's space

 A Long March 3B rocket lifts off from Xichang, China & # 39; s program to quietly progress through the launch of the first manned mission in 2003. </p>
<div class=
 ; s southwestern Sichuan province, on December 8
The second space lab Tiangong 2 – or Heavenly Palace 2 – which is expected to return to Earth in a demolition demolition 2-year life span.
During its time in operation, it conducted 14 projects and hosted a team of astronauts, who took part in China's longest-ever, 33-day long crewed space mission.
In 2013, China became only the third country to perform a successful lunar landing, after the United States and Russia, when the Yutu 1 rover touched down on the surface of the moon.
They bettered that year when Yutu landed on the side of the moon, an achievement NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine praised as "a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment."

The Yutu 2 rover's primary purpose was research – exploring an area previously

In a statement, China's National Space Administration said the landing "opened a new chapter in humanity's exploration of the moon."

It also showed just how far Chinese space technology had come.

Billion-dollar tech race

 A driver wearing a space suit puts on a helmet at

Euroconsult estimates it will cost about $ 5.8 billion (40 million yuan) for 2019.

While this is only about a quarter of the $ 22.6 billion budget NASA Space Agency in the US for 2020.
China's ambitions are no smaller than those of its US competitor.
The 13th Five Year Plan has been singled out by the Chinese government
 China plans to send a rover to explore Mars next year

According to Chinese state
The architect of China's lunar exploration program, Wu Weiren, said in March that the Chinese government would launch a Mars sample in 2020. Beijing is thus planning to launch a permanent space station by 2022.
There are even plans to become a second person in the world to put a person on the surface of the moon, possibly in the 2030s.

That might seem ambitious, but space consultant Curcio said China has been on track for its space plan. "They've been pretty much hitting those targets," he said.

It's not just the government taking part in the space race, either.

Inspired by US pioneers as Elon Musk's SpaceX, China's private space industry now boasts more than 60 companies. OneSpace became China's first private company to launch a rocket in 2018 – the 9-meter-tall OS-X rocket which took off from a base in northwestern China – after only three years in operation.

"There is such good in China now, "said Mao Chao, president of OneSpace. "China is certainly catching up with and surpassing US aerospace."

China is not alone in trying to advance its space program. Japan's space agency has successfully landed rovers on the asteroid.
But it is only the US and China who are actively trying on the moon in the near future, in an echo of the Cold War rivalry between Moscow and Washington. US President Donald Trump has called on NASA to conduct another moon landing by 2024.

Curcio said that in his estimation, the Chinese space program is only 10 to 15 years behind the US in terms of technology.

They've been caught up rather quickly, "he said.

CNN's James Griffiths contributed to this article.


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