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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.

Source: Yahoo News

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By voronwe on 6/22/2012 11:59:38 PM , Rating: 2
This article is cribbed from an editorial on Yahoo written by Mark Whittington. Since Mark is considered to be pretty awfully misinformed by the space community, that ends up making Tiffany Kaiser even worse. Since she can't just say, "Mark Whittington says X, and Mark Whittington says Y!", she ends up making vague, unsubstantiated, unsourced statements like the one above.

Here's the Yahoo URL:

I'm not sure there's any informed person that thinks China's going to be a big space threat any time in the next decade. We're all applauding them, but in eight years they'll end up with a space station that's 2/3 as big as the two former Soviet stations that Excalibur Almaz is refurbishing for private service, and 1/5 as big as Skylab. Most space analysts now feel that the next feet on the Moon will belong to tourists, and soon.

One can now buy a ticket to lunar orbit for £100M. How much longer before someone includes a ride down to the surface in a used Dragon in that ticket? The market will soon be flooded with them.

Mark Whittington is, well, a Yahoo. And I stopped doing what Tiffany Kaiser does when I was in grade school.

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