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 9:26:11 PM
The atmosphere is also a huge obstacle. The moon does not have this obstacle. I believe it would be relatively simple to make a maglev launcher to send payloads to earth.
Harnessing energy on the moon ought to be a lot easier than it is on earth as well. Imagine a drum spinning round where half of it is exposed to the sun and its powerful undiluted energy and the other half exposed to the incredible cold. The hot/cold would create a lot of energy through the expansion/contraction of the liquid/vapour.
In any case, I don't think there's enough water on the moon to make that sort of usage feasible. Once it's used up, then what? With a maglev launcher, you'd just be using electricity and momentum to return payloads to earth. But, all that is just wishful thinking at this point.
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