http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15089720The successful launch of the Tiangong-1 space station by China is an event of huge geopolitical significance, just as the orbiting of China's first astronaut was in 2003.
It can be argued that China's achievements, though impressive, only demonstrate how far China lags behind Russia and the US.
Russia after all launched its first cosmonaut in 1961 and its first space station in 1971. The US achieved these landmarks in 1962 and 1973, and, at just over eight tonnes, Tiangong-1 is smaller than the American Skylab station launched in 1973.
But to focus on the 40-year gap is to ignore what lies behind China's space programme, and the Chinese governments' determination to achieve a series of dramatic space objectives that will confirm the country's status as a new superpower.
The space programme also offers clues to the thinking behind China's long-term foreign policy goals and its strategic logic.
8 years from their first man in space to their first space station. They're not wasting anytime.