One spatial superpower replaces the other?

As Endeavour makes its final trip into space, another nountry gets ready to spend the taxpayers’ money up there. Earlier this week, China announced a plan to build a manned space station (names Tiangong or heavenly palace) in the next decade – joining Russia’s Mir and the joint International Space Station (ISS).

While largely symbolic, the Chinese ambition to conquer space “on their own” also signals that the tables are turning when it comes to spending money into such lofty endeavours. The good news is that, in this age of standardization, the docking hardware will be compatible with ISS enabling some high-level exchange between both station.

As a reminder, the spatial arms’ race wasn’t the least factor precipitating the end of the Soviet Union empire. No doubt that China will avoid that history repeats itself.