8 thoughts on “China’s New Rockets”

  1. Per an article linked in that article, the solid boosters will parachute down. That will be interesting, given that they don’t launch near the ocean.

    1. “Per an article linked in that article, the solid boosters will parachute down. That will be interesting, given that they don’t launch near the ocean.”

      Perhaps they intend to test out of the new Hainan Island launch site??

      At any rate, it’s a half-hearted “follow-the-other-government” approach to a refurbishble, rather than a reusable vehicle.

  2. Will we ever have a Sputnik moment with China or will our commercial industry beat them before they get their lunar base and space ships?

    NASA has heritage and experience but it looks like without SpaceX, China is positioned to match and surpass NASA in a number of areas in the near future.

    1. Will we ever see a Sputnik moment from China? The short answer is no.

      In my opinion, nothing about the plodding progress of the 21st Century Chinese space program should lead anyone to expect a ‘great leap forward’. ;-D

      And even the actual 1957 Sputnik was over-reacted to. The cases where the Evil Empire surprised the West with technology were mostly notable for how few those surprises were, such as the Mig-15 in the Korean War. The Western panics over those surprises in turn led to a persistent over-estimation of Red power, until the rotten commie mess finally began imploding in 1989.

      The United States has been pretty bad about flip-flopping between incorrect extremes when estimating the power of foreign adversaries, initially under estimating, then getting surprised, then over estimating, such as with Imperial Japan or the Soviet Union.

      I would say the Chinese are being over-estimated today. I don’t mean to say they aren’t dangerous. In fact I think they are potentially more dangerous to the U.S. than the Soviet Union ever was, because of Chinese economic strength. But the Chinese are still hobbled by the practices and culture the Chinese Communist Party uses to keep the Party in power.

      That Communist culture of corruption and avoiding risks, will prevent any rapid advancement of the Chinese Space Program, leaving them perpetually in a situation of copycatting and playing catch-up.

      1. I would say the Chinese are being over-estimated today.

        My view is the opposite. People are too dismissive of their capabilities. Rather than “plodding” they are making steady progress according to their own timeline not the timeline others think they should follow. They are making great progress and constantly doing things that people once dismissed as impossible for them. This isn’t just true for space but across a number of fields.

        They aren’t playing catch up. They are pursuing their own goals, competing with us but on their own terms. It is a real possibility that without (maybe even with) SpaceX, they would beat us back to the Moon with a lunar base.

        While their communist government does have many weaknesses, there are many in top positions who came from their space program. Space is important to them and people are promoted on more than just party corruption.

        A sputnik moment is a metaphor for awakening, it doesn’t have to be militaristic or bogged down in flawed readings of history. It is about recognition of competition. Being dismissive of opponents leads to complacency and when it comes to space, it can waste decades. But I think serendipity has positioned our commercial industry to out-compete China, who is well positioned to surpass NASA in everything but Mars rovers.

        1. Nothing would please me more than a new real space-race with the Chinese or the Russians. But facts are facts.

          Yes, the Chinese are making progress. But it is so very very slow. And actual progress is slower than even their own timid timelines. They are only catching up to the Russians because the Russians have been standing still for decades.

          I remember 2004 when the Chinese announced the Long March 5 Program, which they claimed would fly from a new launch site built on Hainan island. That was exciting. And at the time I really thought the Chinese wanted to race. They claimed the Long March 5 would be operational in 2008. Yes!! I thought.

          But here we are in 2018 and the Long March is still not ready, with the corrected version due to fly this November. That’s more than 10 years behind schedule of the original timeline!

          I’ve learned that Russians claims for new rockets and new spacecraft are just hot air. At least the Chinese are actually moving forward. But the pace is so tortoise like, and slower than even their own slow claims that it isn’t worth any excitement or concern.

  3. It does say “will attempt vertical landing”. When you think about it, the SRB’s always attempted vertical landing, until the ocean got them off balance, and they fell over on their sides.

    1. 😉 That’s a generous interpretation. You should try to sell that to some marketing shill at Orbital Northrop ATK Grumman.

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