PolygamousRanchKid writes "China plans to launch space labs and manned ships and prepare to build space stations over the next five years, according to a plan released Thursday that shows the country's space program is gathering momentum. China's space program has already made major breakthroughs in a relatively short time, although it lags far behind the United States and Russia in space technology and experience. The country will continue exploring the moon using probes, start gathering samples of the moon's surface, and 'push forward its exploration of planets, asteroids and the sun.' Some elements of China's program, notably the firing of a ground-based missile into one of its dead satellites four years ago, have alarmed American officials and others who say such moves could set off a race to militarize space. That the program is run by the military has made the U.S. reluctant to cooperate with China in space, even though the latter insists its program is purely for peaceful ends."