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China In Space

Glenn Reynolds has filed his first report from the ISDC, on the status of the Chinese space program. Or to be more accurate, the status of our knowledge of the Chinese space program.

I'm long on record as being concerned about the Chinese in space, when it comes to the military, and sanguine when it comes to them going to the moon. I remain that way. As Glenn notes, when it comes to manned space, they're simply recapitulating what we did in the sixties, except much more slowly.


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Ken Murphy wrote:

I don't know about recapitulating what 'we' did in the sixties. From the books I picked up in Beijing for the Lunar Library it seems the Chinese are following in the footsteps of the Russians moreso than ourselves. I can't read the 'text', but the images are pretty self-explanatory. They're looking to do a rover and then a sample-return. Those aren't insubstatial technical accomplishments. Russia had Luna and Lunakhod. I'm probably wrong, but Sojourner is the first U.S. rover that I can think of. Other than the crewed Moon rover, and crewed Apollo that thoroughly trounced Luna's sample-return butt.

Right now, I think the Chinese are more concerned with building up their skill base than with a crewed Lunar mission.

Rand Simberg wrote:

When I say "we" I was referring to the government manned space programs (including the Soviets').

(And no, despite that, lest anyone jump on it, I still don't think that Obama was referring to Soviet troops when he talked about his grandfather's "fellow troops.")

ken anthony wrote:

But I expect you'll be accused of it anyway. Why bother
reading what you actually say. It's so much easier to
attack what they imagine you've said.

Lurking Observer wrote:

Actually, I don't think the Chinese are in an "either/or" situation.

They are building up their skill base, but very incrementally. At the rate of one manned launch every two years (three, in the case of Shenzhou-VII), they are building up their manned mission skills very slowly.

OTOH, they are launching satellites at an increasing pace. They are saying they will launch 10 this year. They launched 8/year in 2006 and 2007. This is a steadily increasing rate from the late 1990s, when they were barely launching 20 in the entire decade.

The Chinese think in the longer term, and are prepared to act in that way. This differentiates them from both the US and the USSR.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on May 30, 2008 2:50 PM.

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