Three Chinese astronauts have embarked on a six-month mission to work on the country's new space station. This is China's latest step towards becoming an important space superpower for many decades to come.

What is Tiangong Space Station?

Last year, China launched the first module of its Tiangong space station into space.

Its name means 'Palace of Heaven'. By the end of this year, China is working on plans to add more modules, such as the Mangtian Science Lab, to the space center.

Next year, China will launch the Shuntian Telescope into space. The telescope will fly close to the space station and connect to the space station for repairs and refueling.

The Tiangong space station will have its own energy source, will have its own life support system and a quarters will be built.

China is the third country in history to take steps to establish a space station in space and send its own astronauts into space. The Soviet Union and the United States have done this before.

China has high hopes for the Tiangong space station. It is expected that the space station will replace the International Space Station, which will retire in 2031.

Chinese astronauts are not allowed on the ISS because US law prohibits their space agency NASA from sharing information with China.

China's plan to reach the moon and Mars

China's ambitions do not stop there. Over the next few years, China intends to collect samples from asteroids near Earth.

China plans to land its first astronaut on the moon by 2030. He also wants to conduct a search operation on Mars and Jupiter and collect soil and rock samples from there.

What is the history of China in space?

China launched its first satellite into space in 1970. At that time, China was in the throes of a cultural revolution.

Until then, only the United States, Russia, France, and Japan could reach space before China.

In the last 10 years, China has launched more than 200 rockets.

It has already sent an unmanned mission to the moon. The mission, called Chang-E5, will return to Earth after collecting samples on the moon. After landing on the lunar surface, the mission also sent a color picture of the moon.

Who is bearing the cost of China's space missions?

According to Chinese state media Xinhua, about three million people have worked on China's space missions. This is 18 times more than those working at NASA.

The Chinese National Space Administration was founded in 2003 with an annual budget of 2 billion yuan, or about કરોડ 300 million.

However, in 2016, China also opened its space mission to private companies, and according to Chinese media, these companies are now investing the equivalent of ten billion yuan or about one and a half billion dollars annually.

Why is China moving in space?

China is excited to develop satellite technology. They want to use this for telecommunication, air traffic management, weather forecasting and navigation etc.

However many satellites also have military use. It can be used to direct long-range missiles in addition to spying on one's enemies.

Lucinda King, space project manager at Postmouth University, says China is not just focusing on high-profile space missions. It is succeeding in every aspect of space. They have the money, resources and political will to spend on their own programs.

One of the inspirations of China's lunar missions is to acquire valuable and rare minerals like lithium from there.

Saeed Mostesher, director of the University of London's London Institute of Space Policy and Law, says China will not be able to achieve anything by sending repeated missions to the moon.

The inspiration for China's space mission seems to be influencing the world.