China continues incredible space push with lunar rover launch in 2013

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There’s something about space that seems to galvanize nations. It’s almost like the Olympics in terms of expressing pure ability and willpower, but large scale national projects allow the public to take even more ownership of the achievements. When the USSR won the first space race, and then lost the second, world politics actually changed. Putting humans into space, and then on the surface of the Moon, was a measure not only of technical know-how but of indomitable spirit. In a national staring contest that seemed to be mostly about endurance, that turned out to be an important point to settle.


Now, however, America is more concerned with practical matters. NASA’s funding is waning, as is support for its overall mission. Landing a human on Mars will be a monumental event, but more than likely it will not be remembered as a quintessentially American achievement in the same way as the Moon landings. The US is no longer struggling to assert itself as the world’s most powerful force of personality — but China is. This rising nation has more reason than any other to make loud, unmistakable examples of its own potential, and once again space presents itself as the most viable stage on which to do so.

This week the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced that it has finished construction of its first lunar landing module. It is now ready to move Chang’e 3 to the “launch implementation phase,” and fully expects to launch China’s first moon landing mission by the end of the year. This will be an unmanned mission, but given that China only just launched its first lunar orbiter, Chang’e 1, in 2007, the military-led space agency is making remarkably quick progress.

Written By: Graham Templeton
continue to source article at extremetech.com

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  1. I hope the competition between our nations is directed towards scientific exploration. In that sense, more power to the Chinese. History has shown that communist regimes based on oppression can be stable for periods but eventually begin to wobble. Let’s hope the Chinese have a “soft landing” in both senses of the word.

  2. An unmanned moon landing may not be a game changer, but if the Chinese manage to put a person up there I predict a sudden change in attitude in the US towards NASA and space exploration. I further predict that the Chinese will send a woman – so they can claim a genuine “first”.

  3. Interesting discussion here about attempts to make sure US, Russia, China etc can all dock with each others spacecraft. Be a pain to get up there and discover you forgot your US-Sino space station adapter!

    Michael

    • In reply to #7 by mmurray:

      Interesting discussion here about attempts to make sure US, Russia, China etc can all dock with each others spacecraft. Be a pain to get up there and discover you forgot your US-Sino space station adapter!

      They have already been there with non-compatibility issues:-

      The Apollo – Soyuz docking was complicated by the need to build a Russian – US, airlock docking adapter in which to meet, because the Soyuz used Earth atmospheric pressure, while the Apollo used 5psi pure oxygen and a lighter structure. The Apollo craft would have exploded if exposed to the Russian pressurisation!

      A similar non-compatibility was on the Apollo13 CM and LM CO2 filters.

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