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...
6/21/2012 1:45:06 PM
I think you haven't thought about this very much.
Mining the moon is not hundreds of years away: we could do it now, the only things stopping us is will power. It would just take a decade to get back there and start setting up industry. And there's way, way more on the Moon than just water.
But hey, on the topic of water, why is it important and brought up?
For one thing, you can split water straight into rocket fuel (hydrogen and oxygen). Solar panels are far more effective out there outside our atmosphere, so electrolysis would not be nearly the issue it is for us on this planet. Rocket fuel, low gravity to easily launch deeper into space from, independent water supply for people so you don't have to expensively launch water into space from the Earth... Yep, as I hope you can see with a little thought, the Moon's water supply is incredibly important for mastering space.
And where would you go from the Moon? There are plenty of near by asteroids with enough resources to meet world's consumption needs for "hundreds of years". Mars with far more water, far more resources, rocket fuel -built into its soil-, and good soil for setting up artificial crop plantations... all you need for supplying endeavors further out into the solar system. No need to mine on Earth or mess with our environment then.
Overcrowding problem? Space is the solution. Start putting all that manpower to something constructive.
Looking back at Earth: hey, do we have an oil problem a hundred years from now? No worries! From all we've learned and developed to go from the Moon to Mars, to the carboniferous asteroids of the asteroid belt which can be used to make plenty of oil for the world, we could also make our way to Titan, with its nigh unlimited amount of hydrocarbons for all our needs.
And it all started with the resources and water conveniently locked in that incredibly small gravity well we call the Moon.
"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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