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Pictures | Thu Jan 3, 2019 | 12:00pm EST

China's space exploration

Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng (L) and Chen Dong wave in front of a Chinese national flag before the launch of Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft, in Jiuquan, China, October 17, 2016. China is racing to catch up with Russia and the United States and become a major space power by 2030. Beijing plans to launch construction of its own manned space station next year. While China has insisted its ambitions are purely peaceful, the U.S. Defense Department has accused it of pursuing activities aiming to prevent other nations from using space-based assets during a crisis. Besides its civilian ambitions, China has tested anti-satellite missiles and the U.S. Congress has banned NASA from two-way cooperation with its Chinese counterpart over security concerns.

REUTERS/Stringer

Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng (L) and Chen Dong wave in front of a Chinese national flag before the launch of Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft, in Jiuquan, China, October 17, 2016. China is racing to catch up with Russia and the United States and...more

Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng (L) and Chen Dong wave in front of a Chinese national flag before the launch of Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft, in Jiuquan, China, October 17, 2016. China is racing to catch up with Russia and the United States and become a major space power by 2030. Beijing plans to launch construction of its own manned space station next year. While China has insisted its ambitions are purely peaceful, the U.S. Defense Department has accused it of pursuing activities aiming to prevent other nations from using space-based assets during a crisis. Besides its civilian ambitions, China has tested anti-satellite missiles and the U.S. Congress has banned NASA from two-way cooperation with its Chinese counterpart over security concerns. REUTERS/Stringer
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The far side of the moon taken by the Chang'e-4 lunar probe is seen in this image provided by China National Space Administration January 3, 2019. A Chinese space probe successfully touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3, China's space agency said, hailing the event as a historic first and a major achievement for the country's space program. The probe, which has a lander and a rover, touched down at a targeted area near the moon's south pole in the Von Karman Crater after entering the moon's orbit in mid-December. The tasks of the Chang'e-4 include astronomical observation, surveying the moon's terrain, landform and mineral makeup, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment of its far side.

China National Space Administration/CNS via REUTERS

The far side of the moon taken by the Chang'e-4 lunar probe is seen in this image provided by China National Space Administration January 3, 2019. A Chinese space probe successfully touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3, China's space...more

The far side of the moon taken by the Chang'e-4 lunar probe is seen in this image provided by China National Space Administration January 3, 2019. A Chinese space probe successfully touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3, China's space agency said, hailing the event as a historic first and a major achievement for the country's space program. The probe, which has a lander and a rover, touched down at a targeted area near the moon's south pole in the Von Karman Crater after entering the moon's orbit in mid-December. The tasks of the Chang'e-4 include astronomical observation, surveying the moon's terrain, landform and mineral makeup, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment of its far side. China National Space Administration/CNS via REUTERS
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A Long March-3B rocket carrying the Chang'e 4 lunar probe takes off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, China December 8, 2018. In 2003, China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket after the former Soviet Union and the United States, and in 2017 it said it was preparing to send a person to the moon.

REUTERS/Stringer

A Long March-3B rocket carrying the Chang'e 4 lunar probe takes off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, China December 8, 2018. In 2003, China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket after the...more

A Long March-3B rocket carrying the Chang'e 4 lunar probe takes off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, China December 8, 2018. In 2003, China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket after the former Soviet Union and the United States, and in 2017 it said it was preparing to send a person to the moon. REUTERS/Stringer
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A photograph of the giant screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows photo of the Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit" lunar rover taken by the camera on the Chang'e 3 probe during the mutual-photograph process, in Beijing December 15, 2013. China completed its first lunar "soft landing" in 2013, but its "Jade Rabbit" rover began malfunctioning after several weeks.

REUTERS/Stringer

A photograph of the giant screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows photo of the Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit" lunar rover taken by the camera on the Chang'e 3 probe during the mutual-photograph process, in Beijing December 15, 2013. China...more

A photograph of the giant screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows photo of the Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit" lunar rover taken by the camera on the Chang'e 3 probe during the mutual-photograph process, in Beijing December 15, 2013. China completed its first lunar "soft landing" in 2013, but its "Jade Rabbit" rover began malfunctioning after several weeks. REUTERS/Stringer
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A photograph of the giant screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows photo of China's Chang'e 3 probe, taken by the country's first lunar rover, Yutu, during the mutual-photograph process, in Beijing December 15, 2013.

REUTERS/Stringer

A photograph of the giant screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows photo of China's Chang'e 3 probe, taken by the country's first lunar rover, Yutu, during the mutual-photograph process, in Beijing December 15, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A photograph of the giant screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows photo of China's Chang'e 3 probe, taken by the country's first lunar rover, Yutu, during the mutual-photograph process, in Beijing December 15, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
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A photograph taken on a giant screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing shows an animated image of the Chang'e-3 lunar probe landing onto the surface of the moon, December 14, 2013. 

REUTERS/Stringer

A photograph taken on a giant screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing shows an animated image of the Chang'e-3 lunar probe landing onto the surface of the moon, December 14, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A photograph taken on a giant screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing shows an animated image of the Chang'e-3 lunar probe landing onto the surface of the moon, December 14, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
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Ground crew helps a Chinese astronaut exit from the re-entry capsule of China's Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, after a successful 15-day mission in which they docked with a manned space laboratory, at its main landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, June 26, 2013. 

REUTERS/Stringer

Ground crew helps a Chinese astronaut exit from the re-entry capsule of China's Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, after a successful 15-day mission in which they docked with a manned space laboratory, at its main landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia...more

Ground crew helps a Chinese astronaut exit from the re-entry capsule of China's Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, after a successful 15-day mission in which they docked with a manned space laboratory, at its main landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
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A policeman stands guard next to a component of the Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft which was found in Badain Jaran Desert after the launch, in Alxa League, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region June 12, 2013. 

REUTERS/Stringer

A policeman stands guard next to a component of the Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft which was found in Badain Jaran Desert after the launch, in Alxa League, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A policeman stands guard next to a component of the Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft which was found in Badain Jaran Desert after the launch, in Alxa League, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
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The Long March II-F rocket loaded with a Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft carrying Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang lifts off from the launch pad in the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province June 16, 2012. China launched the spacecraft putting its first woman, 33-year-old female fighter pilot Liu Yang, in orbit as the country took its latest step towards building a space station within the decade. 

REUTERS/Jason Lee

The Long March II-F rocket loaded with a Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft carrying Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang lifts off from the launch pad in the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province June 16, 2012. China launched...more

The Long March II-F rocket loaded with a Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft carrying Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang lifts off from the launch pad in the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province June 16, 2012. China launched the spacecraft putting its first woman, 33-year-old female fighter pilot Liu Yang, in orbit as the country took its latest step towards building a space station within the decade. REUTERS/Jason Lee
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Liu Yang (C), China's first female astronaut, waves next to her comrade Jing Haipeng (L) as she comes out from the re-entry capsule of China's Shenzhou 9 spacecraft in Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region June 29, 2012. The mission put the country's first woman in space and completed a manned docking test critical to its goal of building a space station by 2020. 

REUTERS/China Daily

Liu Yang (C), China's first female astronaut, waves next to her comrade Jing Haipeng (L) as she comes out from the re-entry capsule of China's Shenzhou 9 spacecraft in Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region June 29, 2012. The mission put...more

Liu Yang (C), China's first female astronaut, waves next to her comrade Jing Haipeng (L) as she comes out from the re-entry capsule of China's Shenzhou 9 spacecraft in Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region June 29, 2012. The mission put the country's first woman in space and completed a manned docking test critical to its goal of building a space station by 2020. REUTERS/China Daily
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A full-size model of Chinese space station core module Tianhe is seen at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, or Zhuhai Airshow, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China November 7, 2018.

REUTERS/Stringer

A full-size model of Chinese space station core module Tianhe is seen at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, or Zhuhai Airshow, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

A full-size model of Chinese space station core module Tianhe is seen at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, or Zhuhai Airshow, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
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Chinese astronauts (from L to R) Zhang Xiaoguang, Nie Haisheng and Wang Yaping salute in a re-entry capsule during training for a 15-day mission to an experimental space lab, at Beijing Aerospace City in Beijing, April 29, 2013. 

REUTERS/Stringer

Chinese astronauts (from L to R) Zhang Xiaoguang, Nie Haisheng and Wang Yaping salute in a re-entry capsule during training for a 15-day mission to an experimental space lab, at Beijing Aerospace City in Beijing, April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Chinese astronauts (from L to R) Zhang Xiaoguang, Nie Haisheng and Wang Yaping salute in a re-entry capsule during training for a 15-day mission to an experimental space lab, at Beijing Aerospace City in Beijing, April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
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China's Long March rocket carries the manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11 at the launch centre in Jiuquan, China, October 10, 2016. 

REUTERS/Stringer

China's Long March rocket carries the manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11 at the launch centre in Jiuquan, China, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

China's Long March rocket carries the manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11 at the launch centre in Jiuquan, China, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer
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A model of the moon lander for China's Chang'e 4 lunar probe is displayed at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, or Zhuhai Airshow, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China November 6, 2018. 

Wang Xu/China Space News via REUTERS

A model of the moon lander for China's Chang'e 4 lunar probe is displayed at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, or Zhuhai Airshow, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China November 6, 2018. Wang Xu/China Space News via REUTERS

A model of the moon lander for China's Chang'e 4 lunar probe is displayed at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, or Zhuhai Airshow, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China November 6, 2018. Wang Xu/China Space News via REUTERS
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A view of China's Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1 module (top L) just before it docks with the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft (top R) is seen on a monitoring screen showing a computer animation (bottom) of the docking process at the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center November 3, 2011. China successfully carried out its first docking exercise between two unmanned spacecraft, a key test of the rising power's plans to secure a long-term manned foothold in space.

REUTERS/CCTV via Reuters TV

A view of China's Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1 module (top L) just before it docks with the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft (top R) is seen on a monitoring screen showing a computer animation (bottom) of the docking process at the Beijing Aerospace Flight...more

A view of China's Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1 module (top L) just before it docks with the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft (top R) is seen on a monitoring screen showing a computer animation (bottom) of the docking process at the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center November 3, 2011. China successfully carried out its first docking exercise between two unmanned spacecraft, a key test of the rising power's plans to secure a long-term manned foothold in space. REUTERS/CCTV via Reuters TV
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Astronaut Zhai Zhigang of China holds the national flag after exiting the Shenzhou VII space craft in this September 27, 2008 video grab. Zhai became the first Chinese man to walk in space.

REUTERS/CCTV via Reuters TV

Astronaut Zhai Zhigang of China holds the national flag after exiting the Shenzhou VII space craft in this September 27, 2008 video grab. Zhai became the first Chinese man to walk in space. REUTERS/CCTV via Reuters TV

Astronaut Zhai Zhigang of China holds the national flag after exiting the Shenzhou VII space craft in this September 27, 2008 video grab. Zhai became the first Chinese man to walk in space. REUTERS/CCTV via Reuters TV
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A video grab shows Chinese astronauts sitting in the Shenzhou VII as the spacecraft blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province September 25, 2008. 

REUTERS/CCTV via Reuters TV

A video grab shows Chinese astronauts sitting in the Shenzhou VII as the spacecraft blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province September 25, 2008. REUTERS/CCTV via Reuters TV

A video grab shows Chinese astronauts sitting in the Shenzhou VII as the spacecraft blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province September 25, 2008. REUTERS/CCTV via Reuters TV
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Technicians prepare to assemble the returning cabin of the Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province July 19, 2008. 

REUTERS/Stringer

Technicians prepare to assemble the returning cabin of the Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province July 19, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

Technicians prepare to assemble the returning cabin of the Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province July 19, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer
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Technicians prepare to assemble the cover of the Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province August 26, 2008. 

REUTERS/Stringer

Technicians prepare to assemble the cover of the Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province August 26, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

Technicians prepare to assemble the cover of the Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province August 26, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer
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The Shenzhou-7 manned spaceship, the Long-March II-F rocket and the escape tower are transferred to the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, in Gansu province September 20, 2008. 

REUTERS/Stringer

The Shenzhou-7 manned spaceship, the Long-March II-F rocket and the escape tower are transferred to the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, in Gansu province September 20, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

The Shenzhou-7 manned spaceship, the Long-March II-F rocket and the escape tower are transferred to the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, in Gansu province September 20, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer
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