10 Signs China Is Serious About Space


1
Looking Moonward
Watch out, moon. Here comes China.
Watch out, moon. Here comes China.
Grant Faint/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Around 40 years have passed since Eugene Cernan left the last human boot print on the surface of the moon. American astronauts have not returned since, and the Soviet Union never bothered to go in the first place. With the exception of the abortive Constellation program backed by President George W. Bush, politicos have put forward little serious discussion of a return to our silvery companion.

Enter China. The Middle Kingdom is determined to go to the big ball of green cheese, and it's willing to spend the cheddar to do it. With this in mind, the China National Space Administration's short-term plan focuses on building an uncrewed system capable of reaching the moon, collecting samples and returning them to Earth.

From 2007-2008, China's first lunar orbiter, Chang'e-1, successfully mapped the lunar surface; Chang'e-2, launched Oct. 1, 2010, tested landing technology for the planned 2013 Chang'e-3 sample-collection mission, and supplied high-resolution imagery of its successor's landing site [sources: CNN; CJSS]. Chang'e-3, sporting China's first robotic lander and rover, is slated for a 2013 launch.

China intends for such missions to prepare the way for later crewed moonshots. If successful, and unchallenged by other space powers, they will establish China as the only nation currently sending human beings to our nearest neighbor. Whether the rest of the world will allow such "lunacy" to go unanswered, out of lack of interest or in the name of other priorities, only time will tell.

Related Articles

More Great Links

Sources

  • Amos, Jonathan. "X-37B Spaceplane 'Spying on China.'" BBC News. Jan. 8, 2012. (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16423881
  • Baucom, Donald. "Missile Defense Milestones." Federation of American Scientists. (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/program/milestone.htm
  • British Council. "Space School China." (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.britishcouncil.org/china-science-projects-archives-space-school.htm
  • CNN. "China Launches Lunar Probe." Oct. 01, 2010. (Jan. 10, 2012) http://articles.cnn.com/2010-10-01/world/china.lunar.launch_1_lunar-probe-chang-e-xichang-satellite-launch-center?_s=PM:WORLD
  • Cong, Wang. "'Taikonauts' a Sign of China's Growing Global Influence." Xinhua. Sept. 25, 2008. (Jan. 8, 2012) http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-09/25/content_10111749.htm
  • The Economist. "Rockets Galore." Jan. 7, 2012. (Jan. 10, 2012) http://www.economist.com/node/21542379
  • Information Office of the State Council, the People's Republic of China. "China's Space Activities in 2011." Dec. 29, 2011. (Jan. 4, 2012) http://www.scio.gov.cn/zxbd/wz/201112/t1073727.htm
  • Jacobs, Andrew. "China's Space Program Bolstered by First Docking." The New York Times. Nov. 3, 2011. (Jan. 5, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/world/asia/chinas-space-program-boosted-by-first-docking.html
  • Lague, David. "Missile-ready China Warns U.S. Against Plan to Destroy Spy Satellite." Nov. 8, 2008. (Jan. 5, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/18/world/asia/18iht-spy.3.10157725.html
  • Masters, Karen. "How Much Money is Spent on Space Exploration?" Cornell University Astronomy Department. November 2005. (Jan. 6, 2012) http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=684
  • Rabinovich, Simon. "China's 'Eye-In-The-Sky' Nears Par with U.S." July 11, 2011. (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/cf83817a-abaa-11e0-8a64-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1j5TGSsAv
  • Raeburn, Paul. "China Launches its First Space Laboratory." Discover magazine. January/February 2012. Page 36.
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). "Manufacturing in China." April 4, 2011. (Jan. 10, 2012) http://www.bls.gov/ilc/china.htm
  • Wolf, Jim. "China a Growing Threat in Space and Cyberspace, U.S. Military Says." Reuters. May 21, 2008. (Jan. 9, 2012) http://uk.reuters.com/article/2008/05/21/oukin-uk-china-usa-space-idUKN2029195220080521
  • Wong, Edward and Kenneth Chang. "Space Plan From China Broadens Challenge to U.S." The New York Times. Dec. 30, 2011. (Jan. 8, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/30/world/asia/china-unveils-ambitious-plan-to-explore-space.html
  • Xinhua. "Chang'e-2 Completes Mission, Chang'e-3 to be Launched in 2013." April 2, 2011. (Jan. 8, 2012) http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/video/2011-04/02/c_13810410.htm
  • Xinhua. "Six Thousand People to be Resettled to Make Way for New Space Launch Center." Oct. 29, 2007. (Jan. 8, 2012) http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-10/29/content_6971942.htm
  • Zhigang, FU. "Promoting the Space Science and Technology Education and Training in Asia-Pacific Region." Open Informal Session of the United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities. April 19, 2004. (Jan. 6, 2012) http://www.china-un.ch/eng/ljzg/smwx/t85803.htm
  • Ziyuan, Ouyang et al. "Chang'E-1 Lunar Mission: An Overview and Primary Science Results." Chinese Journal of Space Science. Vol. 30, No. 5. Page 392. 2010. (Jan. 8, 2012) http://www.cjss.ac.cn/qikan/manage/wenzhang/2010-05-02.pdf

UP NEXT

Just Four Dimensions in the Universe, if You Believe Gravitational Waves

Just Four Dimensions in the Universe, if You Believe Gravitational Waves

Having extra dimensions would be handy for explaining some of the universe's craziest mysteries. Learn how gravitational waves factor in.


More to Explore