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Author Topic: China will beat us back to the moon  (Read 113 times)
heyIMmike
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China will beat us back to the moon
« on: October 05, 2007, 12:43:23 AM »

I just read an interesting article over at cnn.com.  The article entitled NASA chief: China will beat us back to the moon is really pretty interesting, but not for the reason that the title might suggest.  50 years ago, the Soviet Union (the USSR for those of you that remember it) started the great space race with the launch of Sputnik.  Based on the perception that the US was behind the soviets in space technology, the US set itself to become the technical giant that it is now.  However, somewhere alone the way, space became old news to the american public, funding became less of a priority, and NASA lost ground.

Now, the Chinese, who have only have a few successful manned launches are predicited to beat us back to the moon.  Now if you are sharp, you'll notice that it said beat us BACK to the moon, not beat us to the moon.  No one can change the fact that the United States was the first and only country to put mEn on the moon.  So whats the big deal you may be asking?  This, in my humble opinion, is a clever ploy to get the US back into the space race with a new compeditor, China.

The US is way ahead on the technology curve.  So in theory, it should be a cinch for the US to win this new race.  The problem lies in the funding and the desire behind that.  So NASA is trying to drum up interest by creating a new race to the moon, and hopefully renewed interest in one of the greatest human endevors man has ever undertaken.

Here is the article.
Quote
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) -- The Soviets beat the United States at getting a satellite, and a man, into space. Now, the Chinese may get to the moon before the U.S. can make a return visit.

Fifty years after Sputnik became the world's first artificial satellite, a new race is under way with the finish line on the moon. NASA, the former lunar champion, already is predicting defeat.

"I personally believe that China will be back on the moon before we are," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said in a low-key lecture in Washington two weeks ago, marking the space agency's 50th anniversary, still a year away.

"I think when that happens, Americans will not like it. But they will just have to not like it."

Griffin's candor startled many in the space community, but insiders acknowledge the reality. China has pulled off two manned spaceflights with its own rockets and is eager to head for the moon.

NASA has a 2020 deadline for returning Americans to the moon. China would like to beat that.

It has a probe poised for a launch to the moon, supposedly before year's end. The lunar orbiter is to be followed by a lander and then, by 2017, a robotic mission to return moon rocks. Whether China could land one of its "taikonauts" there before American astronauts arrive is uncertain.

The U.S. is "more technically advanced. We certainly could be back on the moon faster than the Chinese, but we don't have the political will and therefore the resources to do it," said Joan Johnson-Freese, head of the Naval War College's national security decision-making department.

Russia -- the early day winner with the launch of Sputnik on October 4, 1957, and the first spaceman, Yuri Gagarin, on April 12, 1961 -- is no longer the competitor it was under the Soviet Union banner.

Although Russia is a key player in the international space station, with its Soyuz rockets regularly ferrying crews and cargo, it's figuring to team up with the United States in the moon arena.

It was just four years ago that China became only the third country in the world to launch its own rockets with people on board. Now it is aiming to build its own space station to orbit Earth, as well as a mission to the moon in 10 to 15 years.

Unlike the intense, cash-heavy days of the late 1950s and 1960s, budget constraints have slowed NASA's previous rocket-fast pace. It will be 16 years from the time President Bush set the lunar goal in 2004 -- if NASA even gets to the moon by 2020.

That's twice as long as it took after President Kennedy issued the challenge in 1961; Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin fulfilled it in July 1969.

"Apollo was a Cold War program. It was as much a war-fighting program as any tank or plane," and both the U.S. and Soviet Union were starting from the same place, Johnson-Freese said. The Chinese, on the other hand, started halfway up the learning curve, she noted, having borrowed their spacecraft design from the Russians.

NASA insists it's not a race anymore, with grander, longer-range goals than Apollo's flags and footprints. Think lunar bases, with encapsulated minivans for transporting astronauts.

"The U.S. has to get over this feeling that it has to be a competition," said White House science adviser John Marburger.

Competition or no, the prize will encompass more than any lunar treasures.

"I think we will see, as we have seen with China's introductory manned space flights so far, we will see again that nations look up to nations that appear to be at the top of the technical pyramid and they want to do deals with those nations," Griffin said.

"That's one of the things that made us the world's greatest economic power. So I think we'll be reinstructed in that lesson in the coming years."

As a side note, I wonder what we could have accomplished with all the money that has been spent on both the Iraq wars...  gone to the moon and mars both I believe, as well as solve the energy crisis...
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dark_arkangel
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Re: China will beat us back to the moon
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2007, 12:16:47 PM »

waaa go back to the stars sounds really cool and yesterday was the 50 aniversary of the sputnik lol n__n
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Silverain
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Re: China will beat us back to the moon
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2007, 08:04:23 PM »

I adore space stuff and I wish I could've been around in the days of the Mercury and Apollo missions.  But intellectually, I don't see the point of any more trips to the moon.  There's nothing of great use or interest to humankind on the moon: no traces of life, no minerals worth mining, no artifacts, no atmosphere, no water.  Nada.  With the minimal gravity, intense radiation and extreme temperatures, it's not a great place for humans to set up camp, either.  Though it does have the advantage of being "close."

The Mars missions Bush suggested before the 2004 election were just a feel-good fantasy, and a costly one.  It's probably possible to send humans to Mars, but the mission would take years, and nobody really understands the physical and psychological impact of being cooped up in a spacecraft for that long.  Without water or life-sustaining resources there, it's not worth building a base, because they'd have to drag everything they needed along with them.

I don't think going back to the moon or to Mars would be very safe, either.  Many of the probes we send to Mars crash land.  Three of NASA's manned spacecraft have exploded, killing every astronaut aboard, and the third moon mission had to be aborted midflight because of a near-lethal equipment failure.  Recently reports have come of astronauts having messy affairs or being drunk on launch day.  In such a big organization, things will inevitably go wrong, but things at NASA need an overhaul before I'd trust them with a project as big as this.

Also, I can't say I'm surprised China is kicking our asses.  They have three times as many people, a government even more tyrannical and corrupt, and far fewer restrictive laws than America does.  And they work harder and aren't dumb enough to put themselves a trillion dollars in debt.  In fact, in addition to manufacturing and selling all that cheap junk we buy, China is purchasing all those bonds we're selling to finance the war.  Which means, in economic terms, they own our debt plus a ton of interest.  They're going to be the next big superpower, no question in my mind.  IMO they are one already.
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Pancake Ninja
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Re: China will beat us back to the moon
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2007, 12:19:39 PM »

I may not be a big fan of propaganda, but I'm all for it if we can be all interested in math and science like we were when trying to out-do the Russians.  I'd love to see us have a better space program.
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heyIMmike
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Re: China will beat us back to the moon
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2007, 01:48:23 AM »

I couldn't agree more.  Silverrain, on some of the recent crashes on Mars, were due to math errors.  I think at least one was a conversion error between metric and english units.

But like Destroyer said, I'm all for making science, and not athletes the stars our kids look up to.
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zizi
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Re: China will beat us back to the moon
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2007, 08:27:45 PM »

interesting and somehow i can almost believe it. china is supposed to be our big competitor in economy.

 there was an article i read a while back about that astronaut lady that had a breakdown. it highlighted a lot of issues with NASA including outdated equipment, stress, and people's overall lack of interest/support in space anymore. a lot of the recent disasters and tragedies with the launches were due to them cutting corners and undershooting everything to save a penny. it also talked about the possibility of privatizing space endeavors so there will more money and so one and so forth. but who knows what will happen by 2020. for all we know, there might not even be a NASA program. 
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Re: China will beat us back to the moon
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2007, 11:45:46 PM »

Neat! Can't wait. I'm actually curious to see that lil American flag there... not that I think it could have been a hoax or anything but, yeah anyway with today's technology (on their end that is, ya know, them Army and NASA people having about half a century in advance over us civilians) they could likely render a huge tentacle monster the size of Kenya spawning out of the dark side of the moon and it'd be bought by everyone.

But yeah.

I can't wait.
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