|The Long March II-F rocket being transported to the launch pad. Image released June 11, 2012.|
CREDIT: China Manned Space Engineering
Apparently, the successful launch elicited cheers from the Chinese control center, where Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong read an emotional and enthusiastic congratulatory statement from Chinese President Hu Jintao, who effused "I feel very glad to hear the success of launching the Shenzhou 9 manned spacecraft".
In addition to building a space station by 2020, China has previously announced plans to land on the moon by 2016. The US news coverage of this important milestone is funny to read because nearly every article ends with some sort of reassurance from "analysts" that the US is still far ahead of China in the field of space exploration and technology. This instinctive reassurance is humerous but can only mean good things for NASA. If anything can spur public support for the US space program, it's the threat of communism.