Visitor stands near the Shenzhou 5 re-entry capsule at an exhibition in Beijing, July 6, 2011.
Visitor stands near the Shenzhou 5 re-entry capsule at an exhibition in Beijing, July 6, 2011.

China?s recent launch of an habitable space laboratory module has sparked a new round of speculations on forums dedicated to China?s military strength.

Tiangong-1, which means Heaven Palace-1, was launched in China on September 29 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. It is China?s first space lab module that has the capacity to carry humans.

The first ?taikonaut? (Chinese astronaut) in orbit was in 2003, and the Yinghuo-1, a Russian-Chinese robot probe to Mars, will be launched in 2013. Tiangong-1 is an ongoing effort in China?s space ambitions and the first step to building a successful space station.

Online, nationalistic forums dedicated to analyzing China?s military strength have been eagerly speculating on the launch?s significance. Those same forums were focused in July maiden voyage of on China?s first ever aircraft carrier., founded in 2008 by a nationalistic student. The website, now renamed, is a platform for nationalistic youth.

After the launch, huangzhongsong said:

?I support the development of manned spacecrafts. It?s not wasting resources. What is the waste of manpower and resources? It?s when the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan!?

Commenter qushichen wrote:

?China already missed out on the oceans. It cannot for anything miss out on the skies!? Hooray for Chinese scientists!

Commenters see both the US and Russia as China?s competitors. User ?tylz? wrote about why America is perceived to be number one on the Yingshang government website?s forum:

?The States are running wild in the world, and openly showed contempt for international law. What are they relying on? The all-conquering, powerful weapons, or more specifically, 11 Carrier Battle Groups, the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world, precise guided weapons, and the most advanced stealth fighters?  ?

Users on the military forum of the most popular web portal, Sina, also challenged the United States.  ?BrightTimesXi?an? said:

?The technology of this Tiangong-1 is more advanced than America?s space technology when they were doing this.?

On the popular ?Flying Military? forum, user ?zhenqianga? attracted two pages of comments when he outlined the benefits of developing a space program for a developing nation. However, ?zhenqianga? was quick to point out that developing a space program had more nationalistic uses:

?Our nation has successfully launched the Tiangong preliminary space lab probe.  There are huge numbers of Taiwan and Japanese internet devils trying to create public opinion by saying there are still many poor children that need to be fed. So money shouldn?t be spent on Tiangong or Shenzhou [spacecraft], right?  This is an effort to misdirect public opinion."

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