CHINA: LOOK HERE, WE’RE IN THE RACE!
China has just completed its latest mission of orbiting the planet capped by a symbolic space-walk, as spaceship returns to earth.
The exercise was seen as key to China’s ambition to build an orbiting station in the next few years.
Mr Zhai wore a Chinese-made spacesuit thought to have cost between £5m and £20m ($10m-$40m) for the space walk.
The “yuhangyuan” (astronaut) was tethered to the capsule with an umbilical cable.
The Shenzhou VII capsule soared into orbit on a Long March II-F rocket from Jiuquan spaceport in north-west China on 25 September.
China became only the third nation after the United States and Russia to independently put a man in space when Yang Liwei, another fighter pilot, went into orbit on the Shenzhou V mission in October 2003.
Two years later, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng completed a five-day flight on Shenzhou VI.
Chinese media report that this latest mission is the “most critical step” in the country’s “three-step” space programme.
These stages are: sending a human into orbit, docking spacecraft together to form a small laboratory and, ultimately, building a large space station.
Ultimately, the race is about who gets first to build a colony on the moon