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Not only can the Chinese space program make it to the moon, it will get there before the U.S., according to NASA

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told a House Committee on Science and Technology that the Chinese are likely to be the next nation to reach the moon, even before the United States.  "If they wanted to mount a lunar mission, they could do so," Griffin said.  The Chinese space program also has around 200,000 employees, while NASA has a workforce numbering close to 75,000.

Assuming NASA continues to receive the amount of funding it is currently getting, the space agency will be able to send astronauts back to the moon in 2019 -- an additional "few billion extra" will allow NASA to reach the moon in 2017.  The Chinese government continues to funnel large amounts of money towards the nation's space endeavors.  

Serious budget cuts and issues with the current NASA lunar program were the main reasons cited by NASA.  Bart Gordon, chairman of the U.S. House science committee, recently said that NASA is headed for a "train wreck" if the space organization cannot get the funding that it needs.  
With the pending retirement of the space shuttle in 2010, NASA also needs to finish the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) on time after the shuttle is retired.  "If the CEV is delayed even further, then we will cede leadership in human space flight at a time when Russia and China have such capabilities and India has announced its intention to develop them," Griffin said.

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RE: Tech is way too old
By artbronze on 3/17/2007 9:57:55 PM , Rating: 2
Our Shuttle technology today is very good, I can't remember the number right now but we've launched many times the number of Saturn V launches and all vehicals preceeding it. I know it sounds silly considering Challenger and Columbia but in comparison to the other space vehicals the Shuttle is very safe. The Shuttle is however very complex and costly to operate. I'd venture to say the Shuttle is the safest space vehicle flying right now, manned or unmanned and the number of flights to accidents will back this up.

RE: Tech is way too old
By mino on 3/17/2007 10:40:42 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not a Russian, but I am sure some of them would call you arrogant.

Before you call Shuttle "very safe compared to other vehicles", try spelling S-O-Y-U-Z.

To be clear, Shuttle IS INCREDIBLE PIECE OF TECHNOLOGY. However, it was designed for performance (and initialy price/perf.) as a primary design goal.
Safety came to the limelight only after Callenger and (more importantly) the break-up of USSR.

You see, exploration allways WAS, IS and WILL be about taking you chances.
One can either play it safe(NASA of today), or break the boundaries (NASA of 60's), not both.
The biggest problem for NASA these days are politicians making decisions on stuff they have no idea about. In other words, no USSR to compete with.

NASA is on the right track with this "warning".
Politicians do NOT care for the advance of mankind. They however DO care for China becoming superior to US in any high-tech field.
This warning was not meant for public audience but for those at congress who see no reason to fund some "pathetic" space exploration when there are more "important" needs (like to bomb Iran...).

RE: Tech is way too old
By Comdrpopnfresh on 3/17/2007 10:56:43 PM , Rating: 2
I'd argue the Russian variant of the US shuttle was and is the safest manned spacecraft to date. It used only liquid propellants so that the challenger incident could not happen, and with 80's technology was able to land, in an automated fashion after a few orbits, within inches of the center of its landing strip. ALL UNMANNED. If you take out human error, safety goes way up.
Nasa is screwed because there is not going to be money for the CEV, moon exploration or mars. The hubble will fall out of the sky. The only promise between the public and NASA and vice versa that will stick will be the retirement date of the shuttles. And with no shuttle- even with all the money diverted tot he CEV, it is not equipped to finish the space station.

"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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