As early as 2002, China had never launched a manned space mission. Today, it has four under its belt -- the first was in 2003 -- a research laboratory in space, and plans to put a human on the moon by around 2025. China's expanded space ambitions have coincided with a massive military modernization effort that has seen defense spending rise by double-digit percentages almost every year of the past decade. That money has gone toward building more professional soldiers as well as new stealth fighters, military satellites, and the country's first aircraft carrier, launched in September.
Pictured above is the September 2011 launch in Gansu province of a Long March 2F rocket carrying China's first space laboratory, dubbed Tiangong, or "Heavenly Palace."
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