Astronauts Zhang Xiaoguang, Nie Haisheng and Wang Yaping, from left to right, join hands after leaving the re-entry capsule of China's Shenzhou 10 spacecraft in Inner Mongolia in June 2013.
Space is a frontier that could soon fall to privately funded Chinese start-ups looking for commercial opportunities created by the sky-high costs of the state-run space programme, which one expert describes as probably the most expensive in the world .
Visitors to the simple but sleek website of Beijing-based One Space Technology are greeted with the slogan We create space express .
Most rocket launch pads in China are controlled by the military and access to such facilities is not easy.
Adjusted for purchasing power parity at the time, the actual cost of Chang e was a third higher than the Japanese spacecraft.
While that centralised structure worked for a poor country with limited resources, it came under increasing challenge from the private sector as the mainland economy grew to become the world s second largest.