For more than half a century, space exploration was the domain of the then only remaining "superpowers" in the world: the United States and the Soviet Union.
Both nations achieved numerous milestones. The Soviet Union launched the first man and woman into space, and the United States undertook the first landing on the moon. The "Space Race" as it was called, wound down with the fall of the USSR. The USSR did continue with its space program due to its successor state, modern day Russia. The United States and its space agency, NASA, went on, but the realities of a shrinking American economy and disinterest in the space program meant that budget cuts had to happen.
The main achievement of the era after the "Space Race" was propelled by the a group of nations that went on to build the International Space Station. With global economic power shifting east, it seemed only reasonable that the next phase of space explorations will be led by what is projected to be the world's biggest economy -- namely, China.
China already made big strides when it was the third country in the world, after the United States and the Soviet Union (Russia), to independently send a manned mission into space.
However, they faced a setback when their closest rival, India, was able to launch the first successful Asian Mars Mission. China made plans of their own and beyond.
Wu Weiren, the head designer of China's moon mission, spoke to the BBC to give the world an idea to the Asian giant's future plans for its space program.
"The USA, Europe and India have all (begun) -- we could have started our Mars mission earlier, but finally the country has given its approval," Wu Weiren said. He added, "we will orbit Mars, land and deploy a rover -- all in one mission."
That is all far off; for now, they plan on first reaching the moon. "Our short term goal is to orbit the Moon, land on the Moon," Wu explained. He also revealed long term lunar goals -- something that no other country has done, which is to establish an actual colony. "We want a manned lunar landing to stay for longer periods and establish a research base," he said.
He also revealed that they will be open for cooperation with the United States. "We would like to cooperate with the US, especially for Space and Moon exploration. We have urged the US many times to get rid of restrictions, so scientists from both countries can work together on future exploration," Wu Weiren said.