Last Saturday’s “Blast from the Past” was courtesy of the Chinese when they landed on the moon with their first unmanned lunar probe shortly after 9 p.m. Beijing time.
One hour later they landed their second lunar probe.
According to the Chinese news service Xinhua, the spacecraft, which is named Chang’e - 3, landed on the moon in a region known as the Bay of Rainbows and will explore the geological structure and surface of the moon looking for lunar substances and natural resources using an unmanned exploration vehicle named Jade Rabbit.
The space race is on.
Make that, space races. Last month India launched a Mars orbiter while Japan is lifting off toward its future with an asteroid mission as the European Space Agency is planning a mission to rendezvous with a comet next year along with two missions to Mars later this decade.
Plus, Russia is tripling its space budget and has moon and Mars missions lined up and also recently started development on a new rocket for deep space missions.
The United States?
Next Tuesday the USA will use the NASA technologies that help develop the North American Aerospace Defense Command to track a jolly man in a red suit and his eight reindeer.
Sounds like our elected officials have missed the boat, err, spaceship in the space race as China, just two months after the final U.S. space shuttle flight on July 21, 2011 transported American astronauts to the International Space Station, launched its Tiangong-1 space laboratory into orbit and are continuing to build what will eventually be a larger manned space station than the ISS.
The Chinese have slated 2020 as the Tiangong-1’s completion date, which is the same year the ISS is slated for decommission.
Meaning China will own and operate the only space station circling the planet, and if you think for one moment the Chinese are going to allow our astronauts to car, err, rocket ship pool to Tiangong-1 then you’re probably full of chop bull suey.
Especially when the U.S. rejected Chinese participation in the ISS on the grounds that China had little to offer, which prompted the China National Space Administration to come up with a roadmap that was upgraded to spacemap that focuses on the following goals they want to accomplish by the year 2016:
1. Refining recent rockets and developing new ones.
2. Improving existing launch sites and constructing new ones.
3. Establishing an orbiting framework of communications, scientific and GPS satellites.
4. Preparing the way for expanded human spaceflight.
5. Conducting limited deepspace surveys.
6. Using spacecraft to carry out experiments, take astronomical observations and warn against space debris.
Ground control to Major Yang, as in Yang Liwei, China’s first taikonaut, mission accomplished.
Accomplished so much so that there is speculation China could put a taikonaut on the moon soon. How soon? Perhaps by the end of 2016.
The Chinese government says its moon exploration is purely scientific as Sun Huxian, the China National Space Administrations chief deputy engineer told Xinhua Saturday:
“Compared to the last century’s space race between the United States and the former Soviet Union, mankind’s current return to the moon is more based on curiosity and exploration of the unknown universe”
Then he added:
“China’s lunar program is an important component of mankind’s activities to explore peaceful use of space’’
About the only thing he didn’t try to sell the world in those statements was the Great Wall of China because this is what China really wants in space.
When China gains control of space, they gain control of us.
President Obama and Congress really need to take one giant step for mankind and step up the space race for NASA so it can race to space before China erases space.
Specifically, our space.
That’s right. The “Cold War” of then, Spy vs. Spy, has become the “Star Wars” of now, satellite vs. satellite, as China is undoubtedly trying to overtake all the technology the USA has come to depend and rely on down here that is orbiting up there.
If you think China has put our economy into a hole by overtaking our manufacturing industry, then you would have to believe if they overtook our space industry we could become immersed in an economical black hole.
Once again,that is why President Obama and Congress need to jump-start us back into the space race.
Wow. It’s been 110 years and one day since Orville and Wilbur took that first flight in Kitty Hawk.