China Sends Its First Woman Into Space As It Sets Up Its Space Station

China has joined the space race. The Asian giant with a booming economy launched its Shenzhou spacecraft carrying three astronauts, including the 33 year-old Liu Yang.

Liu Yang, the Chinese astronaut and first Chinese woman in space. (Courtesy: Reuters)

The spacecraft will dock with the spacestation module Tiangong 1. Tiangong means Heavenly Palace in Chinese. This is the second step in China’s long-time plans to put a space station in orbit, rivalling the International Space Station. The target year is 2020.

The Shenzhou spacecraft

While Tiangong 1 is nowhere close to the magnificence of the International Space Station, it has to be remembered that this is just a test module. The docking techniques being used by China have been mastered by only the Soviets and the Americans before. A space lab is on the cards and China is putting heavy stress on manned missions.

This is in complete contrast with the ambitions of the American space program, which is now focussing on unmanned and a future manned mission to Mars. While it has been only the Chinese government which has been funding and operating the space program, NASA has been encouraging private players like SpaceX and Orbital Corps into entering the space race. Of course, the end of the Space Shuttle program has a lot to do with that!

The Chinese are optimistic about their chances. Said Zhou Jianping, the chief designer of China’s manned mission:

I believe that we can achieve this goal, because we already have the basic technological capability

The Sino-US competition is getting hotter and, in a twist of fate, entering a space race just like the one of the Cold War days. History does repeat itself… hopefully in a more positive way.

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Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.

  • Remember this new space station will be owned by the same country that held the Tiananmen Square massacre of people who were simply wanting the basic human rights we Americans have.

    “The Asian giant with a booming economy …”

    Yes… booming b/c of totalitatrian rule.

    “NASA has been encouraging private players like SpaceX and Orbital Corps into entering the space race. Of course, the end of the Space Shuttle program has a lot to do with that!”
    … and just who do we have to thank for the Shuttles being gone?
    Notice, however, that it is the private sector of the US – even working in the fiat money system which has killed our economy – who NASA is encouraging to compete with communist China b/c of the ineptitude of our own government? This truly says a lot about which type of government is best for humanity. By definition, a private company could never exist in China, let alone be knowledgeable and technologically advanced enough to reach these heights. Capitalism, history has proven over and over, is best for everyone – not just a select few.
    I am as happy for China doing this as I am happy about the huge untold numbers of Chinese who have been imprisoned even murdered communist China simply b/c these innocent dead thought they should be allowed basic human rights.

    And the thing that saddens me the most is that our own media will not remind people of the heinous acts against humanity that all communism has committed. instead, while reporting China’s achievements, we put a bling eye to the facts. It was not seen as a god thing when Sputnik was launched. Neither should this event be heralded as anything other than it is. An evil power now has its own space station.

    But rather than do what they should, I am sure our current administration will only find ways to weaken us more – as they have already done.