Chinese Moon?

Former House Science chair Robert Walker has concluded that China may have plans for a permanent lunar settlement by 2012. Already the Chinese Shenzhou copy of the Russian Soyuz capsule will be ready to take the first taikonauts into Earth orbit by later this year. The Chinese seem to have ambitious plans for space, and they have an increasingly large industrial and technological base to fund and develop those ambitions.

Could this provoke another space race? Perhaps. It is certain that the American space program lacks the kind of compelling vision of Kennedy’s moon shot in the 21st Century. Another space race might be just what is needed to make space travel closer to a reality for more than just a handful of astronauts.

One thought on “Chinese Moon?

  1. Bruce Sterling, I think, had a good article on this subject in Wired a few months back… he had a great comment to the extent that nothing would re-ignite US interest in space exploration like the Chinese landing on the moon and taking down our flag!

    But yes, a Mars race with China would be really interesting, and the tech development fallout from such a race could be staggering- the sort of funding that would be pumped into nanomaterials, nuclear energy, and medicine for the mission alone would be enough to set off the next three tech revolutions. It would be a far better economic stimulus than giving Rummy another $200 Billion…

    But there are problems. Foremost, NASA’s leadership needs to be given the boot. They went from the foremost tech agency in the world to a has-been old boy’s club in only 15 years time. This is a sad state of affairs, to say the least. We need to get real about what were doing with this worthless ISS boondoggle. We need a real next-generation launch platform. Also, with floating debris becoming more and more of a problem, the space elevator concept is looking more attractive all the time (and fullerene nanotube based composites could provide a structure both light and strong enough to make such a beast possible).

    As for China- the beast has awakened. They’re building a tech infrastructure, an educated populous (their young adult population is 98.6% literate), a modern millitary, and a gigantic industrial machine. Forget about the EU- our real competition in the 21st century is going to be from the Middle Kingdom.

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