Starting in the ’80s, China put up sophisticated communications and intelligence satellites, and offered cheap satellite-launch services to other nations. It began a taikonaut (a mashup of the Mandarin word for “outer space” and “naut,” which is Greek for “sailor”) training program, and started building out manned mission capsules and space planes. With the launch of its manned Shenzhou 5, which carried taikonaut Yang Liwei into space for 21 hours in 2003, China’s space race began to hit its marks. From there, China made rapid leaps: multiple crewed missions, spacewalks, and, in 2011, the launch of Tiangong-1, a two-person space lab. Early next year, it will launch its first-generation cargo ship, Tianzhou-1, which means “heavenly vessel.” The ship will dock with an existing Chinese space lab and bring supplies for science experiments.