China has a problem. They have such a fairly long history of blatantly stealing technology from other companies, that they were not invited to participate in the International Space Station program. So, to stick their tongues out at everyone, they decide to take the Soviet approach and make their own. Now they are ready to man that space station.
Today the Chinese news agency called Xinhua is reporting that China is preparing to launch a manned space flight to the station called "Tiangong-1" later this month. According to Wikipedia, Tiangong-1 is an experimental testbed to demonstrate the rendezvous and docking capabilities needed to support a space station complex. It will be deorbited in 2013 and replaced with different modules to make a true space station by 2020.
This falls in line with China's pledge to have a greater space presence and their goal of putting a man on the moon by 2017. China's hunger and wiillingness to spend the massive amount of money on a space program is kind of where we were 45 years ago. I think now is the time to push new manned missions to the Moon and eventually Mars before the Chinese can. Not only would it give Americans a sense of national pride that they havent felt since the 60's, but it will show that it is going to be a long time before another country can pass the United States technology wise.
Photo courtesy of english.people.com.cn