WASHINGTON _ With the sudden successful launch this weekend of a rocket capable of putting people in orbit, China is about ready to go out of this world to flex its muscles as a superpower.
Sure China has nuclear weapons, but nowadays even tiny Pakistan has the bomb. With a human space program, China will push its way into the way-more exclusive people-in-space club that now has only two members: Russia and the United States.
The Chinese government announced that it launched on Friday and recovered late Saturday an empty spaceship named Shenzhou (Magic Vessel) that could _ and would _ carry people to space. Experts say that could happen as soon as the end of next year.
And while this 21-hour flight may have caught much of the world by surprise, …