After successfully launching a small laboratory into space in September 2016, China sent two taikonauts there for a 30-day scientific mission. The Tiangong-2 (or “Heavenly Palace 2”) is really just a stepping stone designed to test some of the technologies China is building for a larger and more permanent space station, which is expected to be launched in the early 2020s. One of those technologies is the the Long March-7 rocket, which completed its inaugural flight in June 2016. Although these rockets are no more advanced that what’s already used in the U.S., it puts China on course for regular deliveries to the International Space Station and a planned mission to the moon in the early 2030s. This trajectory could even put them ahead of NASA, which is could lose some of its prowess as a result of expected spending cutbacks in 2017.