NASA: China May Reach Moon Before U.S. Returns
March 17, 2007 8:17 PM
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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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Nothing wrong with looking to the past.
3/19/2007 5:15:44 AM
I really dont understand this downer on 'old tech. Apollo worked so well because they had so few options due to the tech of the time. Sometimes it can be easier when your options are limited and you can use that to your advantage and exploit it to the full. I watched the whole series of "From the Earth to the Moon" the other night and was stunned at the level of ingenuity but it also scared me witless at what would happen today if that project kicked off now. Yes their computers were primitive but thats just what you need. It just has to handle trajectories and other mathmatical functions. A few hundred (if that) lines of optimised code and you are set. A few disasters were averted due to the simplicity of the computers. When a major fault happend they were able to fix the code and relay the fixes back to the astronauts to input it themselves in minutes. Can you imagine doing that today? I bet NASA will spend the same time researching what OS to run the new missions on than it spent working out the whole plan for Apollo.
Simplicity and reliability is key. If you had a fully fuelled, fresh off the 1960's production line Apollo rocket designed by guys who actually invented the stuff and a couple of miles away a band spanking new 2019 Nasa rocket designed by guys who were not even born in 1969 using Powerpoint, fuelled on caffine and god knows what with a myriad of options.
I know which one I'd strap myself into.
My theory - Use the same principles and mechanics of Apollo, even down to the simplistic computer systems (you can always take more advanced stuff for the experimental stuff on the moon surface) but as weight was the main restriction maybe use lighter alloys and composite materials to replace certain areas (after suitable testing). I guess reducing the weight of a Saturn rocket by 5% would make a noticable difference.
Why re-invent the wheel? Its not like the guys (if they get there) are going to do much more than what the Apollo guys did. I dont think it will be till we can create launchpads from Earth orbit that we'll be able to send anything more than two or three guys with a few hundred kilos of gear.
Lastly I would be very proud the shake the hand of anyone involved in Apollo. They get fewer every year.
Reads the book 'Moondust'.
"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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