53. China's Space Program Racks Up More Firsts

A rundown of the country's accomplishments and future plans for space travel.

RELATED TAGS: SPACE FLIGHT

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Three taikonauts successfully linked a spacecraft to the Tiangong-1 orbiting lab in June, the first time a Chinese crew performed such a docking. The mission marked another major milestone in China's rapidly advancing human space program: One member of the three-person crew, Liu Yang, became the first Chinese woman in orbit. So far, China has launched four manned missions. None have been technological breakthroughs (the United States and Russia accomplished similar feats decades ago), but the Chinese "have made demonstrable progress in the last decade," says space historian Roger Launius of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

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