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 3:47:51 PM
Better yet, if you can find enough nuclear fuel on the moon then you can refine it there to fuel nuclear rockets. There wouldn't be so many complaints because there would be no threat to our planet from an accident and maybe then we could move into a more promising technology for propulsion.
Even in a nearly 50 year old science fiction book "Rip Foster rides the Grey Planet" they discuss using a Thorium based rocket that uses Zinc I believe as the reaction mass. I am sure we have better ideas now that should be explored and maybe a moon base will be what opens up the opportunities for us to really take off in space exploration.
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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