The Slatest

Space Race? China Plans Launch of Its First Space Station.

A man tries out a Chinese Taikonaut (astronaut) suit at a space exhibit in Beijing.

Photo by MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

The space race may not be as, well, racy as it once was during the Cold War, but that’s not stopping China from investing in the great unknown, announcing that the country expects to have its first space station orbiting earth by 2023.

The announcement came at the International Astronautical Congress currently underway in Beijing. When complete, the station would be capable of housing astronauts on long-term missions in orbit, Wang Zhaoyao, the director of the China Manned Space Agency, told the BBC. In 2003, China became the third country to independently launch a human into space and has been expanding its space program at a rapid pace ever since, the BBC reports.