China is building a new space station – the latest step that some experts see as a brewing race between China and the US.
China's UN Ambassador Shi Zhongjun has recently invited the entire world to join the new space station.
"CSS does not only belong to China, but also to the world," Shi told Xinhua News Agency. "All countries, regardless of their size and level of development, can participate equally in cooperation."
According to documents released by the United Nations Office on Space, the new space station could be operational as early as 2022.
The US has banned the Chinese Space Agency from using the International Space Station (ISS) or sharing technology because of security concerns.
But the ISS can come to an early end. President Donald Trump has said that his government is considering ending US involvement in the space station by 2025, which is three years ahead of the previously accepted schedule.
This change in plans is part of a larger push by the Trump government to privatize much of the US space operations.
NASA has already spent approximately $ 100 billion to destroy the To hold a space station – this works like an orbital laboratory for astronauts and scientists – in top form. The Space Agency is pumping about $ 3-4 billion into the program every year, but these funds could dry up sooner than expected.
Meanwhile, many of the partners behind the ISS have already been courted to invest in China's new space station, says hotel billionaire Robert Bigelow, who has his own plan to build more than twice as much as an inflatable space station like the ISS.
Europe's Space Agency, ESA, has agreed to a partnership in which European astronauts will be able to use the new station in China throughout the 2020s, reports Ars Technica.
China hopes that its future space station can be operational for about a decade and can support up to six astronauts for 180-day stays in which they conduct research.
Parts of the Chinese space station have already been completed, including the core module named Tianhe-1 or "Harmony of the Heavens". It is expected that this module will be put into orbit by 2020. The rest of the station should be completed by 2022.
China is planning a probe to investigate even the dark side of the moon movement, to expand its presence in space. The country is also building a Mars simulation base deep in the Tibetan desert where it hopes to train astronauts for a possible Mars mission.
China wants to launch a Mars probe in 2020.