China's space program shoots for moon, Mars, Venus

Jul 11, 2011 By LOUISE WATT , Associated Press
In this photo taken Nov. 16, 2010, visitors sit besides a model of Chinese made Tiangong 1 space station at the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, known as Airshow China 2010, in Zhuhai city, south China, Guangdong province. In 2011, a rocket will carry a train car-sized module into orbit, the first building block for a Chinese space station. Around 2013, China plans to launch a lunar probe that will set a rover loose on the moon. It wants to put a man on the moon, sometime after 2020. Some experts worry the U.S. could slip behind China in human spaceflight, the realm of space science with the most prestige. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

This year, a rocket will carry a boxcar-sized module into orbit, the first building block for a Chinese space station. Around 2013, China plans to launch a lunar probe that will set a rover loose on the moon. It wants to put a man on the moon, sometime after 2020.

While the United States is still working out its next move as the winds down, is forging ahead. Some experts worry the U.S. could slip behind China in - the realm of space science with the most prestige.

"Space leadership is highly symbolic of national capabilities and international influence, and a decline in space leadership will be seen as symbolic of a relative decline in U.S. power and influence," said Scott Pace, an associate NASA administrator in the George W. Bush administration. He was a supporter of Bush's plan - shelved by President - to return Americans to the .

China is still far behind the U.S. in space technology and experience, but what it doesn't lack is a plan or financial resources. While U.S. programs can fall victim to budgetary worries or a change of government, rapidly growing China appears to have no such constraints.

"One of the biggest advantages of their system is that they have five-year plans so they can develop well ahead," said Peter Bond, consultant editor for Jane's Space Systems and Industry. "They are taking a step-by-step approach, taking their time and gradually improving their capabilities. They are putting all the pieces together for a very capable, advanced ."

In 2003, China became the third country to send an astronaut into space on its own, four decades after the United States and Russia. In 2006, it sent its first probe to the moon. In 2008, China carried out its first .

China's space station is slated to open around 2020, the same year the is scheduled to close. If the U.S. and its partners don't come up with a replacement, China could have the only permanent human presence in the sky.

Its space laboratory module, due to be launched later this year, will test docking techniques for the space station. China's version will be smaller than the International Space Station, which is the size of a football field and jointly operated by the U.S., Russia, Canada, Japan and 11 European countries.

"China has lagged 20 to 40 years behind the U.S. in developing space programs and China has no intention of challenging U.S. dominance in space," said He Qisong, a professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. "But it is a sign of the national spirit for China to develop a space program and therefore it is of great significance for China."

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.

"Space technology can be applied for both civilian and military use, but China doesn't stress the military purpose," said Li Longchen, retired editor-in-chief of Chinese magazine "Space Probe." "It has been always hard for humankind to march into space and China must learn the lessons from the U.S."

China is not the only country aiming high in space. Russia has talked about building a base on the moon and a possible mission to Mars but hasn't set a time frame. India, which has already achieved an unmanned orbit of the moon, is planning its first manned space flight in 2016.

The U.S. has no plans to return to the moon. "We've been there before," Obama said last year. "There's a lot more of space to explore." He prefers sending astronauts to land on an asteroid by 2025 and ultimately to Mars. But those plans are far from set.

Instead, NASA is closing out its 30-year space shuttle era this month, leaving the U.S. dependent on hitching rides to the space station aboard Russian Soyuz capsules at a cost of $56 million per passenger, rising to $63 million from 2014. The U.S. also hopes private companies will develop spacecraft to ferry cargo and crew to the space station.

China, having orbited the moon and starting collecting data on it, is moving toward sending a man there - and beyond. It hopes to launch the rover-releasing moon probe in about two years. Chinese experts believe a moon landing will happen in 2025 at the earliest.

"The is the starting point for deep space exploration," said Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's moon-exploring program, in a 2010 interview posted on the national space agency's website. "We first need to do a good job of exploring the moon and work out the rocket, transportation and detection technology that can then be used for a future exploration of Mars or Venus."

In testimony in May to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which reports to the U.S. Congress, former NASA official Pace said what China learns in its space program can be applied elsewhere: improving the accuracy of ballistic missiles and quality controls for industry.

China also offers space technology to developing countries to secure access to raw materials, said Pace, now director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

There may also be economic reasons to explore the moon: It contains minerals and helium-3, a potential rich source of energy through nuclear fusion.

"But that's way ahead," said Bond, the Jane's editor. "A lot of it would be prestige, the fact that every time we went out and looked at the moon in the night sky we would say the Chinese flag is on there."

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krundoloss
3 / 5 (5) Jul 11, 2011
Is there any doubt at all that the US is going to fall behind everyone else in space. The thing I hope everyone understands is: Everything achieved outside of our planet is MANKIND's achievement, not Russia, US or China. I think it is very superficial to look at who's ahead and who's behind. Can we not just unify the planet into one Space Agency? It is silly to not work together on this as much as possible.
fuviss_co_uk
2.8 / 5 (5) Jul 11, 2011
"Some experts worry the U.S. could slip behind China in human spaceflight " - what a bull*** These experts must be Americans, no ofens USA, I like your country, but in my opinion we all represent one species and I am happy of success of every country, in space exploration science
holoman
3.8 / 5 (4) Jul 11, 2011
Perfect timing by China if they want to pick up some good
NASA talent that the Present administration is moth balling.
PS3
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 11, 2011
"Around 2013, China plans to launch a lunar probe that will set a rover loose on the moon. It wants to put a man on the moon, sometime after 2020. Some experts worry the U.S. could slip behind China in human spaceflight, the realm of space science with the most prestige.

Where is the slipping if we done this decades ago?
flashgordon
3.5 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2011
untill a private group develops the technology to settle space and grow rich enough to pull it off without state-sponsored assistance, humankind will take a long time to choose to settle space; states are going do things for the benefit of the state which is based on what the people say(even in a dictatorship; the dictator can only do things that socio-politicaly approved by the dictators supporters). I don't know why this isn't obvious.

Create a society that spends its life developing the knowledge and skills and is willing to put the money towards space exploration; or, stop complaining about your given state that chooses not to fund a few people to go off to space to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars while the rest(including those in charge of the state) are going to stay and rot here on earth.
LoboSolo
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 11, 2011
"China has lagged 20 to 40 years behind the U.S. in developing space programs and China has no intention of challenging U.S. dominance in space,"

What dominance? The US now has no way to launch a person into Space. It must rent seat from the Russians.

All the US has is a "flexible plan" to nowhere and no way of getting there. The Chinese has rockets and are capable of launching humans. The have a goal.

The early bird may get the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese. If the Chinese are on the moon by themselves, they have all the cheese!
StarGazer2011
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 11, 2011
the failure of the US manned program is a powerful symbol of the decline of the USA as a world leader, they are fast becomming a backward country.
Ober
3 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2011
The US space program isn't a failure for christs sake, it's been a stunning success. If you open your eyes, you'll see that the US is running out of money QUICKLY!!!! It would be pure stupidity to spend money on costly and now OLD space shuttle systems when they are racking up such a huge debt.
I think Obama recently got it right, when he said that the US needs to think of space breakthroughs. Why bother with more low Earth orbit stuff, or mess around with chemical rockets anymore when they have being done this for decades. Nope, it's time to step back, let everyone else have a go, while the U.S. takes it's time using modern technology to come up with the next big step in Space.
I want to see a nuclear powered space craft. Much like a Nuke Sub but in space. Imagine those suckers patrolling the SOLAR SYSTEM!!!!! I know the Russians are working on them. I don't care WHICH country does it, as long as someone does!!!!
I agree though that the world should have ONE space agency!!!
Ober
1 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2011
Another comment.
I've always thought that if the US does have UFO technology in their hands, then why continue with the space shuttle system????
Pure conspiracy theory here, but I wonder if Obamas talk of breakthroughs in space, could be a "Hey, guess what we are gonna start using to move through space instead of ineficient, mega fireworks.......UFOs!!!!!! Ahhhh I can continue to dream.
braindead
1 / 5 (1) Jul 11, 2011
The Chinese might be second to the moon - but on the way who knows what technology they will develop to benefit all? It might be the "moon revisited" but the new mission will be using technology not even dreamed of in the first missions. Soon China will be the dominant force in the development of science and technology and we can be sure that through their clever marketing around the world we will all benefit. Let us hope they also use their expertise and ability to plan to lessen their impact on the environment here on Earth. Good luck to them and all who fly with them!
Skepticus
3 / 5 (2) Jul 12, 2011
How can you have a long term plan if the opposing political forces keep knocking down the other's vision four years before and after they are in the White House just to cater to their vested interests and agendas? Bush wanted a nostalgia trip to the Moon, so NASA obliged, scores of billions spent. Obama cancelled it, NASA said "ok, no wories" Billions wasted. Now the Republican are hellbent on throwing a crowbar in every Obama's plans, to hell with visions, the economy, or anything Democrats stand for to get in the White House. This will happen again and again, as the other pigs have the chance at the trough. This "trying to running the country game" has become an obscence joke. The only sure thing are the military-industry cabals will get their regular trillions, the eternal annual billions check to Israel, while the taxpayers will pay for the game.
Vangarde_Hammerfall
5 / 5 (3) Jul 12, 2011
One word (technically an acronym) VASIMR is the solution to long term travel but more funding is needed to create a much larger base of experimentation. Also the lack of understanding of the general population which force their ideas onto the politicians which in turn care more about the general understanding of something as opposed to the scientific understanding for example VASIMR would be capable of travelling much further and faster if the vessel had a nuclear reactor on board as opposed to the highly poo-poo solar panels but because people have no understanding of how a nuclear reactor works they are terrified by ignorance and so the politicians bow to that idea because most people don't want to be educated.
PS3
1 / 5 (2) Jul 12, 2011

What dominance? The US now has no way to launch a person into Space. It must rent seat from the Russians.
How about we did what they dream to do like 40 years ago LOL!!

Also, the military have their own ships and we can go if want.Clearly it's cheaper for russian ship and not have to maintain anything.We learn basically all there is to do in low orbit anyway, why continue?

Just wait for when they fail to even get close to the moon,then lols will be had at the MASSIVE inferiority!!!

America, phuck yea.
omatumr
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 12, 2011
Congratulations to China!

I hated to see the dismantling of the USA space program, but that was all part of the master plan implemented soon after Eisenhower's warning that this might happen on day (17 Jan 1961):

www.youtube.com/w...ld5PR4ts

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
Alex_Hoffmann
5 / 5 (2) Jul 17, 2011
I absolutely agree with some of the comments here. I am very proud of that China is also developing its space station and working on getting mankind to other planets. At the end of the day, we all should realize that it does not matter whether we are Indians, Chinese, Africans, Europeans, or Americans or whatever one might be. What really matters is that we manage to get mankind to other planets such as Mars and so on. I don't get why the people would be upset if US falls behind. The truth is we are all ONE, so it does not matter which country lands its space technology first on Mars or whatever planet.

I just do not comprehend why people cannot see all the countries as ONE. Because the truth is we are all humans and we all better get working and try to reach beyond this solar system....cause if we don't, end of the world is gonna happen and we all gonna die.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Jul 17, 2011
One word (technically an acronym) VASIMR

VASIMIR is probably a hoax as noted on physorg
http://www.physor...oax.html
(and even if not it is way less effective than ion engines which alread exist)
Moebius
1 / 5 (1) Jul 17, 2011
.... The thing I hope everyone understands is: Everything achieved outside of our planet is MANKIND's achievement, not Russia, US or China. I think it is very superficial to look at who's ahead and who's behind. Can we not just unify the planet into one Space Agency? It is silly to not work together on this as much as possible.


This is about as naive a view of reality as it gets. The goals and uses the accomplishments will be put to will depend on the philosophies of the governments that do it. if you think the goals and philosophies of China are the same as the US you are greatly mistaken. If it was China that had landed on the moon first they would have claimed it as theirs. If they land on Mars they will claim that as theirs. Don't believe it? Take a close look at Tibet.

China is our enemy. The difference is that I know it now and you will when it's too late. The sad part is we are financing them.
gwrede
1 / 5 (1) Jul 17, 2011
"The sad part is, we are financing them."

Actually, they are financing you. China has lent so much money to the US that if they were to suddenly claim it back, you'd be worse off than Greece.
Zed123
not rated yet Jul 17, 2011

We learn basically all there is to do in low orbit anyway, why continue?


Ahh... The age old "I don't even want to..." excuse. Of course you're absolutely right, America has learnt everything that can be learnt about space flight so time to stop doing it. Just like all those American Auto companies who had learnt all that could be learnt about car manufacturing so they decided to stop making cars. Thats what happened right...?

:)
Alex_Hoffmann
not rated yet Jul 17, 2011
....
China is our enemy. The difference is that I know it now and you will when it's too late. The sad part is we are financing them.


Guys please stop fighting. It is good to have loyalty towards your respective countries. However please remember that you are educated and God has given you enough brains to realize that ALL humans are one and we should work together to reach to destinations beyond this planet. I am sure God has given all humans enough brain, please use it. Help each other out and also help out the people starving and living in poverty in Africa, and many Asian countries such as India, and South East Asia.
Just think about what Adam and Eve, our ancestors, would think once they see all us humans fighting our own brothers and sisters.
omatumr
1 / 5 (1) Jul 17, 2011
I agree Alex.

But be aware that brotherhood and comradeship have also been used as propaganda for totalitarian governments.

See George Orwell's book, "1984," or study the old USSR government.

www.online-litera...ll/1984/
Wulfgar
not rated yet Jul 18, 2011
Are they really still dangling Helium-3 out there as a solution to our energy problems? That's just sad.

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