Might China soon be the new king of space? With NASA cooling its jets and Russia misfiring repeatedly on rockets and satellites, Beijing is steadily working toward filling the void. It unveiled a five-year plan yesterday to launch a space lab, collect samples from the moon on an unmanned mission, and build a more powerful spaceship for its astronauts by 2016, reports the New York Times.
China also plans to land astronauts on the moon someday, though no target date has been set. The takeaway from Lewis Page in the UK Register: This "is all about increasing its security and influence here on Earth, and very little to do with expanding humanity's frontiers out into space." Beijing also is working on its own GPS system and has its first aircraft carrier in the water. (Read more China stories.)