Chinese astronauts have arrived at the new Tiangong space station as part of their country's first crewed mission in nearly five years. The three men will spend three months in orbit to bring the first module of the station into service. China has sent 14 astronauts into space since 2003, when it became only the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to do so on its own. In 2019, China became the first country to send a rover to the far side of the Moon, and this spring it became the second nation to land an operational rover on Mars.
Class discussion: NASA has asked Congress for more money to compete with China’s growing space program. Is the United States still the leader in space exploration? Should we spend more on our space program? Why or why not? Why was there a “space race” between the United States and Soviet Union during the 1960s? Was it more important for military or public relations reasons? Has China become as big a military, political and economic rival as the Soviet Union once was? Do manned or unmanned space missions produce more knowledge about our solar system and the universe?