TO THE MOON
The rocket carrying Shenzhou VI, the PRC's last successful manned venture into space, stands in its assembly bay at a factory in Jiuquan, shortly before its October 12, 2005 launch. China has announced that it would like to complete a manned mission to the Moon by 2020.
Technicians man the control room at the European Space Agency's control center in Darmstadt, Germany. A 17-nation intergovernmental organization established in 1974, the ESA is presently focused on developing the technologies that would be needed for a manned mission to Mars.
The United States
A mock-up of the Orion space capsule is loaded into a hangar at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. In late 2008, the full-size structural model will be jettisoned off a simulated launch pad to test the spacecraft's astronaut escape system, which will ensure a safe, reliable method of escape for astronauts in case of an emergency. It is hoped that the Orion crew vehicle will carry humans to the International Space Station by 2015 and to the moon beginning in 2020.
A PSLV C-9 rocket is transported to its launch pad at the Sriharikota space station near Chennai. Launched in April, the vehicle carried 10 satellites into space. India hopes to use a similar rocket to launch an unmanned mission to the moon later this year.
Cosmonauts Sergey Volkov (C) and Oleg Kononenko are joined by South Korean astronaut San Ko (L) during a training session at the Star City space center outside Moscow. Volkov and Kononenko traveled to the International Space Station in April. Russia has stated that is hopes to put a man on the moon by 2025
Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut, prepares to board Shenzhou V, the rocket that carried him into space. The mission made the PRC the third country in the world to independently send people into space.
An H2-A rocket lifts off from a launching pad at the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. The island nation has announced that it hopes to initiate manned flights to the moon by 2025.
The United States / Russia
American, Russian and Korean astronauts aboard the International Space Station listen to a call from mission control in Russia in April. Begun in 1988, the ISS is a joint project between the space agencies of the U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada and Europe
ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel, from Germany, works on the exterior of the Space Station's Columbus module. The Columbus houses a laboratory with room for ten telephone-booth size payload racks, each one able to host an autonomous laboratory for experiments in biology, physiology and other disciplines
The United States / Russia / Europe
The Space Station floats above Earth in a photograph taken from the Atlantis shuttle orbiter in February.
Technicians at Russian Mission Control in Korolev watch video of the International Space Station. The ISS is now in the middle of its 17th Expedition.
Chinese engineers retrieve the re-entry capsule of Shenzhou VI, China's second manned spacecraft, at its landing site in Siziwang Banner county, in Inner Mongolia
The United States
The space shuttle Endeavour sits on the runway after landing in Florida in March. Endeavour delivered a segment of Japan's Kibo laboratory and the Canadian Space Agency's two-armed robotic system to the ISS