U.S. Rethinks Possible Competition with China in Space
June 20, 2012 6:01 PM
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China's recent successful manned mission has started a space race debate
Now that China has successfully completed its
first manned mission
, the United States is worried that it may be left behind when it comes to space-related endeavors.
China initially launched its Tiangong 1 prototype space station module in September 2011 and linked its Shenzhou 8 spacecraft to it in November. Earlier this month, China completed its first manned mission to Tiangong 1 using its Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, which contained the country's first female astronaut.
With so many firsts under China's belt, the U.S. is getting a little worried. Some scientists, such as lunar geologist Paul Spudis say that China could renounce the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which states that no one can claim national sovereignty in space. Spudis believes that potential resources on the moon, such as water, could tempt the country into renouncing the treaty.
There are also worries about the U.S. government's space program. While the U.S. has the private sector (SpaceX) taking care of space-related business for now, there are concerns regarding the private sector's ability to uphold the American space effort without the government's support. The U.S.' funding for the space program has been quite low, even to the point where NASA
urged Congress to provide the full $850 million
for commercial crew vehicle development last October.
However, the private sector has made strong contributions so far with SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule making its
first successful trip
to the International Space Station (ISS) last month.
Others aren't quite as worried about China's position in the space race. According to Jeff Foust, an aerospace analyst, journalist and publisher, China's space program could potentially face some issues with coordination because it is ran by many different government agencies instead of just one.
Regardless, China is now a member of the space race and the U.S. may be taking the new potential competitor into consideration.
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RE: Crackpot scientist...
6/20/2012 11:07:26 PM
Some companies are starting to disagree with you guys about the time frame for exploiting the moon.
Bigelow Aero too has plans, pending affordable launch technologies, to assemble a station at a Lagrange point and lower it to the lunar surface, and bury it under a little regolith for radiation shielding. His idea wasn't to mine or anything, but rather lab space for rent and, primarily, the first off-world hotel.
What's that quote about something happening 50 years after people stop laughing? I think 2012 was the year people stopped laughing at commercial space flight. Mining the moon by 2062 then? Sounds reasonable to me.
As for that treaty, yeah, it's BS. America might uphold it because environmentalists feel like we shouldn't extend our capitalist blight one millimeter past our own atmosphere (and deep down, humanity is a blight on the universe, best contained and stamped out here), but as soon as someone figures out how to make a buck from the moon it'll get trashed. Same deal with the Antartic treaty; make it cost effective to drill for oil there, and someone will go do it. For now it's just too cold and hostile.
RE: Crackpot scientist...
6/21/2012 3:52:00 PM
They are also looking into using those inflatable space station units to link together and make a deep space vehicle by placing them together with something like the Falcon rocket motor. They really do have some interesting ideas and it is amazing how even though they have actually placed test modules into orbit you never hear about them that much.
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