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The Guardian: China: the new space superpower
For years, its space programme was shrouded in secrecy. Now, with plans for lunar and Mars missions, and crowds at its launch sites, China is ready for liftoff.
At 8pm Beijing time on 25 June this year the tropical darkness over China’s Hainan province was temporarily banished by a blinding orange light. Accompanied by the thunderous roar of engines, a 53m-tall rocket pushed itself into the sky.
An increasing number of Chinese rockets have launched in the past few years but this one was significant for three reasons. It was the first launch of the new Long March 7 rocket, designed to help the Chinese place a multi-module space station in orbit. It was the first liftoff from China’s newly constructed Wenchang launch complex, a purpose-built facility set to become the focus for Chinese space ambitions. And it was the first Chinese launch where tourists were encouraged to go along and watch.
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WNU Editor: Growing up I followed the NASA and Soviet/Russian space programs religiously .... every launch and every accomplishment dutifully noted, with hopes for an even more exciting future. Sighhh .... those days of excitement are now gone .... space is no longer a priority for both Russia and the U.S.. Fortunately .... the Chinese are the ones who have the passion, and while their space program is still behind what the Americans and Russians can do, they are catching up.