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Space Race Heats Up in Asia

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the at-least-someone's-government-cares dept.

Space 86

SushiVSYamcha writes with a link to an article on the Seattle Times site, discussing the newly-heated Asian space race. Following Russia and the US into orbit are the nations of Japan and China, now struggling to one-up the other in a competition for scientific and national pride. The piece covers Japan's new initiative to catch up to the Chinese program, as well as some history of the competition "China launched its first manned space flight in 2003. A second mission in 2005 put two astronauts into orbit for a week, and a third manned launch is planned for next year. This year, China also plans to launch a probe that will orbit the moon. Earlier this month, the country launched a Long March 3-A rocket that sent a navigation satellite into orbit as part of its effort to build a global positioning system. The satellite is the fourth China has launched as part of the Compass navigation system, which is expected to be operational in 2008."

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I win (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18802507)

FIRST POST

I win the Race

Funding for NASA? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18802621)

NASA has the capability NOW to send a manned mission to Mars. We have the necessary technology.

Estimated Cost of a Manned Mission to Mars: $75b
Cost of 1 year in Iraq (not including interest, long term costs): $100b

If America wants to be taken seriously I highly recommend that they restore confidence in their own scientific programs.

Re:Funding for NASA? (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803081)

While I think that we should go to Mars, I would far rather leave that to the private enterprise. They will be there before 2025. They will most likely send the first ship on a 1 way mission for at least a decade.

But as to the 100B, well, we could have added a number of nuke plants, increased our Alternative Energy, AND had none-polluting cars. Then we would not be funding those that want to kill us.

Re:Funding for NASA? (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803577)

While I think that we should go to Mars, I would far rather leave that to the private enterprise. They will be there before 2025.

As much as I wish you were correct, I think you're probably being overly optimistic. Private Enterprises (excluding the big NASA contractors) haven't even made it to orbit yet, and there are precious few signs that any of them will soon. Keep your eye on SpaceX, but don't buy a single one of their dates. I guarantee that each milestone will be missed by several years, mostly because of the difficulty of the business they're in. (It's just the way these things go, I'm afraid.)

On the bright side, having the private sector nipping at NASA's heels is a great way to keep them motivated. ;-)

Oh, I don't know (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18804489)

I think that spacex is a bit behind, but not terribly. The fact that they have done 2 shots and have gotten it most of the way on the 2'nd shot is pretty impressive. But I would rather see them do a third launch before attempting to send another payload. But I think that they will launch again BEFORE the end of the year. As it is, they have falcon 9 first stage built and ready to go. But the truth is that falcon 9 (even heavy) is not what will take us to Mars. We are going to need the BFR that they have already started on.

I am hopeful that Scaled Composites will come out with more than they are letting on. It seems to me that if they build the new SS2 to handle true space, then all that is needed is a liquid or solid booster to push it the rest of the way.

Finally, the new space stations coming from Bigelow looked interesting; a triad making use of 2 nautilus and one galaxy. It seems that looking at it, that it would make a NICE way to travel to mars. It would behove NASA to do a COTs thing with them and push to get a nautilus hooked up to the ISS. Even if they paid 100 million for it, it strikes me as a bargain.

Re:Funding for NASA? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812057)

I have to strongly disagree with you here. We still don't have cheap access to LEO. And a private mission to Mars needs that first as well as a host of technologies that have yet to be developed. My take is that it'll be a few decades after LEO costs drop substantially before we see private expeditions beyond the Earth-Moon system. Someone like SpaceX, as much as I like them, is not even remotely close. SpaceX hasn't yet successfully launched anything into orbit. They have maybe one or two chances left before they're toast. They might not survive even if they do successfully launch Falcon I. And the real rocket, Falcon 9 is still in the design phase. Don't count your chickens before the eggs hatch!

Re:Funding for NASA? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816251)

Yeah, that is basically the same thing that batman is saying. But when it is pure NASA, it is an all or nothing based on politics. Now, we have multiple companies targeting cheap access. While I am a big fan of spacex, I think that even if the next rocket fails, it will not matter. The reason is that there is plenty of big money looking to jump into the game and invest in a company like spacex. In addition, Bigelow really needs them (at this moment), so will likely go with them even if they have another failure, and no more.

At the current moment, only 1 is targeting inflatable habitats, but that is changing (not sure that the other one is viable though). Bigelow's design looks like a good way to get around for a shot at the moon or mars (assuming a fast path). They are also working on habitats for each surface.

Finally, there are other companies that are focusing on other aspects of all this. My thoughts on a timeframe may be ambitious, but I could see Gates or Allen forking up a number of billions each to send us to each place. As it is, it sounds like Gates may take the ISS trip. And I would not be surprised to find out that Paul is in talks with them.

Yah Because Al-Qaeda Would Take Us Seriously (-1, Troll)

MCTFB (863774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803705)

if we sent a manned mission to mars.

Unfortunately, in the real world, sometimes you have to go all in just to protect what you already have and hold dear. I suppose we should of been planning manned missions to the moon while Rommel was rolling through Africa unmolested and the Soviet Union was on the verge of suffering France's fate. Yah I suppose Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin should of discussed manned missions to the moon at Yalta, rather than how to defeat the Axis.

The Iraq war was won almost overnight. That was is over and we defeated the enemy easily. What we are doing over in Iraq right now is not a war and is part of something much larger and much more complicated and the larger issues involved will likely not be resolved until there is a world war and billions of people die (just my take on it and I hope and pray I, my family and friends won't be on the death list but some sometimes fate is fate and you just have to accept it).

Are we prosecuting the so-called "War on Terror" (a dumb misnomer if you ask me) efficiently and effectively? Of course not. After all, every armchair quarterback of the war on terror can easily point out all the waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption involved in the so-called rebuilding of Iraq. In fact a reasonable argument could be made that the war on terror is bankrupting us since out military at the moment is designed for short conventional conflicts, not long and protracted conflicts. Same problem we had in Vietnam, but the lesson not learned from a historical perspective is sometimes you don't fight wars to win, but rather you fight not to lose.

Human beings like many other animals are a very competitive species. When male rams butt heads to establish mating dominance, very rarely does one ram kill the other, but they will continue this exercise for hours until one of them gives up. That is what the not so aptly named "war on terror" is really all about. Our enemies realize this, but unfortunately many of us in western civilization seem to think that if things don't go our way, then we should pack our bags and quit and run home.

The destiny of the world lays in the hands of those who are the most patient, willing to sacrifice the most, and willing to endure any hardship for any period of time so that they can declare themselves the winner in the end. The side that loses will be the side that first says to itself "this is just not worth it anymore".

So, unless you plan on using Mars as a refugee colony that is free from attack from the hostile forces on earth, I think our resources would be better spent dealing with this world hegemony problem that everyone seems entangled in before thinking about Star Trek utopian "federations".

Re:Yah Because Al-Qaeda Would Take Us Seriously (2, Informative)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 7 years ago | (#18804241)

All wars are the result of ignorance.

Only knowledge can cure ignorance.

Knowledge is attained through exploration.

More like speaking in absolutes (1)

MCTFB (863774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18804587)

like you are at the moment is what gets people into wars, even though at the deepest level, wars are generally about competition for limited resources. When resources are plenty, people are content and happy and for the most part don't try and kill each other. When resources become scarce and the divide between the haves and have nots is extreme and the have nots grossly outnumber the haves, then the have nots try and assert their power through strength in numbers.

Without access to resources, it is very difficult to create wealth, and without wealth, your fate is in the hands of those who control the creation of wealth. This means if you ever want wealth of your own to feed yourself, your family, your community, your nation or whatever, you will need to have reliable access to resources so that you can create your own wealth.

With globalization and world trade, those who can control or restrict the flow of resources are the ones who hold all the cards. Germany and Japan in World War II were far more efficient than any of their enemies with the resources provided to them, but unfortunately for them (and fortunately for the rest of the world) they just did not have enough natural resources to capitalize on their efficiency. Who knows, if Rommel was able to take Egypt and Stalingrad had fallen so that Germany had access to the oil of the middle east, then the world would undoubtedly be a much different place. Likewise, if Japan had just bombed the oil depots in Hawaii and left the ships alone at Pearl Harbor, then things may have been a lot more different as the entire Pacific fleet would be marooned at Pearl Harbor without any hope of ever being refueled anytime soon. Japan then just needed to secure the vast natural resources of Indonesia and "Flags of our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima" would be two totally different movies.

Re:Yah Because Al-Qaeda Would Take Us Seriously (1)

d0rp (888607) | more than 7 years ago | (#18805111)

"The Iraq war was won almost overnight. That was is over and we defeated the enemy easily. What we are doing over in Iraq right now is not a war..." Thank you! I'm so sick of hearing everyone talk about the "war in Iraq". It bugs me to no end. I'm glad that there's at least someone else that realizes this.

Re:Yah Because Al-Qaeda Would Take Us Seriously (1)

azrina_ma (1090747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806763)

we win the war? really? then, why the heck our soldiers are being slaughtered everyday in iraq?

Re:Funding for NASA? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811937)

Last I checked the cost of a year in Iraq and Afghanistan is around $50 billion per year ignoring the substantial long term costs.

competition for scientific and national pride ? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18802651)

Or ... competition to make and test better ICBMs while masking it as peaceful research?

If you can put it a precision polar orbit, you can also target New York !!!

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (4, Insightful)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18802735)

China's too busy taking our money to want to nuke us.

Now if we go bankrupt, then we'd have something to worry about.

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (2, Funny)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803051)

China's too busy taking our money to want to nuke us.
Now if we go bankrupt, then we'd have something to worry about.


Nah, then they wouldn't have to bother nuking us. They could just buy us out/up.

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (1)

the100rabh (947158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808333)

Wait...Indians are coming

Not exactly (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803119)

They are draining us of jobs and money. But that is because they have fiexed their money to ours rather than allowing it to float free. The amazing thing is that W. is now speaking up about piracy (mostly of software), which does NOTHING for us. If he really wants to fix things, then he would have pushed against the fixing of the monies. He is just offering up an election deal.

Re:Not exactly (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 7 years ago | (#18804505)

Bush should absolutely be speaking up about foreign nations stealing from American companies, regardless of if it is intellectual property, software, or hardware design. Why should foreign companies get a free ride? It raises the prices domestically in the long run, because it destroys competition.

Re:Not exactly (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18804673)

You have misunderstood the money lock.

The reason the US does not care is because we LIKE it when other countries lock their rates to ours. We get the real benefit, they screw themselves for short term stability.

Look, what happens when China or someone else locks their money to us?

Choice A (rarely true). Their economy is stronger than the foolish government thinks so their money, if it floated free would be higher. So this lets us buy their stuff at a cheaper rate, which encourages us to buy their stuff. We get more stuff, cheaper. They get more work, and can't buy as much of our stuff. This hurts our economy but helps our individual life styles. It helps their economy, but hurts their consumers. But in the long term, by artificially supporting their economy, it discourages true growth on their part. Eventially they lose out as third party countries i.e. Germany, become better and better, so we trade with Germany.

Choice B (Almost ALWAYS the reason why countries lock their currency to ours). Their economy is weaker than the foolish government thinks, if they let the currency float, it would drop like a stone. This makes it expensive for us to buy their stuff, we tend not to do it. They buy our stuff. It helps our economy, but hurts our consumers. It hurts their economy, but helps their life style. Long Term, we win. Because while they are helping our economy, we still have to compete with people that are NOT locking their currency, so we do better.

-------- Fact C that is ALWAYS true:

The major problem with locking your currency is interest rate changes. Any country that locks their currency with the USA currency is in effect locking their own interest rates to whatever the US government decides to set. If the US government raises interest rates, this will indirectly cause the other countries's rates to go up. If the US lowers interest rates, this will indirectly cause the other countries's rates to go down.

But the US interest rates are set to help the US economy. If your own economy is not in lock step with the US Economy, this will screw up your economy.

Re:Not exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18804935)

All the above is only true iff we have the powerhouse economy. That is when we exported and imported more than everybody else.China is decimating us and removing our ability to export. In fact, I think that it will be shown in years to come how foolish we were on this issue. As to the interest rates, we are hitting against the wall and starting to show signs of stagflation. If that happens, then we have issues.

Re:Not exactly (4, Informative)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 7 years ago | (#18805335)

They are draining us of jobs and money. But that is because they have fixed their money to ours rather than allowing it to float free.

These statements are contradictory - the only way they are making this "work" is by buying huge amounts of U.S. government debt (and other investments, but it's primarily T-bills). Which funnels money back into the U.S. Essentially they're loaning us the money to buy their goods. So they must think we're a good credit risk, at least.

I would also be curious to know where these jobs are going. If the U.S. is being drained of jobs, how come our unemployment rate is decreasing?

Re:Not exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18810629)

"If the U.S. is being drained of jobs, how come our unemployment rate is decreasing?"

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.

Because the US so much hates Socialism, your choice is to work, die or work and die (ever heard of the concept of "working poor"?). Therefore, the unemployed either find work or they die.

If they find work, that means that the average income goes down together with the unemployment rate. If they die (thus also bringing down the unemployment rate), that's because the US medical care system is not only the most expensive but also the most ineffectual in the whole industrialized world (yay capitalism!).

Re:Not exactly (1)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 7 years ago | (#18843767)

If they find work, that means that the average income goes down together with the unemployment rate.

OK, but average income isn't going down, either.

If they die (thus also bringing down the unemployment rate), that's because the US medical care system is not only the most expensive...

This part of your post is just so silly it isn't even worth a response. I just wanted you to know that I'm ignoring it intentionally.

Re:Not exactly (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811877)

Retirement, prison, government jobs, getting educated, plenty of stuff to hide unemployment.

Re:Not exactly (1)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 7 years ago | (#18843811)

Retirement, prison, government jobs, getting educated, plenty of stuff to hide unemployment.

Granted, but changes from year to year aren't very well explained by these things, and the unemployment rate has dropped consistently with increases in raw job numbers since 2001. You can argue lots of things about conditions in the U.S., but arguing that more Americans aren't working now than were working 5-6 years ago is just silly.

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18804309)

Mod parent funny - didn't anyone notice the sarcasm? I'd call 100 million gazillion in debt the same as bankrupt.

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18804329)

We're already bankrupt... just no one wants to admit it for the sake of the world economy.

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (1)

catiger (927779) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807589)

why you have such moron-like thinking? do you really know a bit of history?

China in the long river of history has NEVER been attacking/invading other countries. Instead US owns the most number of Nukes and numerous global arm forces and a long list of bad records of entering the soils of other countries...

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18808755)

"China in the long river of history has NEVER been attacking/invading other countries."

And I'd like to take the opportunity to add that we've also never been in war with Oceania.

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (1)

anotherzeb (837807) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814227)

Try telling that to the natives of Tibet which the Chinese have annexed, chucking out their rightful leader and installing a puppet in his place

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (1)

catiger (927779) | more than 7 years ago | (#18819207)

yeah. as this guy wanted to separte Tibet from the country, it WAS JUST VERY NECESSARY DOING SO. Putting US in the same situation, what would you be expected to do? 50 -> 50--?

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18833353)

What the fuck are you talking about? Tibet was a country, will an embassy in the US. Before the 50's, Tibet was never part of China. China had messianic visions for control of Asia, which is why proceeded to annex several states that had been independent for centuries(Xinjang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia...) and turning other nations in to puppet states(Mongolia). It then proceeded to declare war on India and Vietnam. China has stopped these activities, and now is a pretty good neighbor, but don't try and subvert history.

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 7 years ago | (#18802753)

mod parent up. I don't trust anything done by the Chinese government. Beware the red dragon.

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (4, Funny)

powerlord (28156) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803049)

mod parent up. I don't trust anything done by the Chinese government. Beware the red dragon.


True, the Red, Blue, Green and Black ones (as well as all the Chromatic Dragons [wikipedia.org] ) are Evil.

You can probably trust the Brass, Copper, Bronze, Silver and Gold varieties though, since the Metallic dragons [wikipedia.org] are Good (although Chaotic Good in quite a few cases).

I suppose it depends on your DM interprets alignment [wikipedia.org] though.

Re:competition for scientific and national pride ? (1)

Jasper__unique_dammi (901401) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806709)

"Or ... competition to make and test better ICBMs while masking it as peaceful research?"
Cmon, they have those for a long time by now. That is way easier then going to the moon and such. Also, in that case, nuclear subs may be more interesting.

Sure, these things have plenty of militairy spin-off, and the Chinese government should not really be trusted too much. However we should avoid (any kind of) undue hostility, I do think the Chinese government tries to do what is best for the countries' people as much the US government does. It is just that the views of the Chinese authority (and undoubtedly, parts of its people) on things like free speech are disagreeable. There are plenty of things disagreeable in many western countries aswell, like corporate influence on government.
I feel like people focus too much on other countries as something to compete with. (while perhaps they should look at wealth distribution in their own country) People in China (and many more countries) deserve more of the wealth existing the world, and it is a good thing it is starting to go there. (probably mostly because more is being produced, rather then diversion of resources) I think they have the right to develop themselves technologically.

wrong info. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18802721)

>Japan leaped ahead of Asia by launching the region's first satellite in 1972

Wrong. China is the first in the region. 3rd in the world.
The Sat was sent by a Longmarch one rocket.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dong_Fang_Hong_I [wikipedia.org]

Re:wrong info about wrong info (2, Informative)

AtlasAxe (977318) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803137)

Did you read the article you posted? From the article: "With the successful launch of "Dong Fang I", China became the fifth country after the Soviet Union, United States, France, and Japan to independently launch a satellite."

Re:wrong info about wrong info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18804177)

They forget that the UK has also launched it's own satellite on a Black Arrow rocket. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Arrow [wikipedia.org]

Implications (3, Funny)

ShorePiper82 (1027534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18802729)

In a moment of amazing forethought: Asia (read as: Sony) launches the first 2,400 mile HD plasma TV into space (with all the best channels Direct TV has to offer). followed quickly by equal sized Google ad-satellites. I'm switching from cable.

Re:Implications (2, Funny)

AtlasAxe (977318) | more than 7 years ago | (#18802869)

As long as I get the remote, I'm fine with that.

Re:Implications (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 7 years ago | (#18802945)

Or, what may be more feasible, Put a 1840km (should be about 5-7 of the sky depending on viewing position) wide billboard in Geosynchronous orbit that simply says "SONY" in lights bright enough to see from earth at night. Now THATs advertising.

note - my math may be flawed. (42,164km orbital radius -> 132462.113km/360 = 368km per degree not taking into account altitude of the viewer)

Yahoo News Photo... China already landed on Moon (5, Funny)

The Media Mechanic (1084283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18802799)

China already landed their 5th astronaut on the moon... Check out this Yahoo News Photo that was posted recently! It is conclusive evidence of China landing on the Moon!! http://news.yahoo.com/photo/070415/480/0396ebd938f 6423fab2ab1e8de16c8c2 [yahoo.com]

Re:Yahoo News Photo... China already landed on Moo (1)

ncohafmuta (577957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18804379)


i actually thought that was the 5th hole at the sea of tranquility course. an up and down with tons of moon dust traps. but you know, with the lack of gravity, you hit the ball off the 5th tee and it comes down on the fairway of the 10th hole.

as to the topic, superpowers will be superpowers (boys will be boys), i have a bigger ICBM than you, check out my anti-free-speech policy, i bet it kicks the butt out of yours. ego never ends.
think this would happen if the leaders of those countries were women? nuh uh.

-Tony

At-least-someone's-government-cares (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18802811)

In historic terms, spending may be down since that great space race and cold war and all that, but it would be hard to say any government cares more about space than ours. The shuttle may have been a colossal waste, and the Hubble isn't worth giving up for the space station, but we have men in space, and we continue to put man in space.
I'd even venture to say our Mars pipedreams are closer to reality than anything Asia is actually doing. Give them a couple of years to decades and maybe we can talk. And what's wrong with an Asian space race? Sounds like all mankind can benefit from the results with less strain to our taxpayers. I'm not advocating less NASA spending, I'm just saying other governments throwing in their chips isn't necessarily bad for us. We need more choices of governments and private industry that can get man and materials into space. Heck, maybe the real space race hasn't even started yet. Maybe history will see the cold-war space race as a prelude to the real global space race that lead to actual markets and residents of space.

maybe (0)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18802831)

Once China and Japan catch up to us we will join the space race again. The US will never let another country achieve superiority in space.

Re:maybe (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803463)

The US can't prohibit a superior economic power from becoming a superior military or space power. China is on track to pass the US in GDP at some point in the next 50 years.

Re:maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18804571)

China doesn't exist in a vacuum you know. China won't become a superpower without the help of the US.

Re:maybe (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18810051)

Why are you objecting on those grounds? The US is "helping" China plenty through trade and that's unlikely to change.

Re:maybe (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18805621)

I dont mean that the US can stop it, just that we wont just sit there and watch it happen. As in this new space race will put us back into the (serious) space exploration business.

Re:maybe (1)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806247)

So was Japan. You can't extend current economic trends out that far. It's nearly impossible for them to keep the current growth constant for that long, particularly when given their political situation.

Re:maybe (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18810033)

So was Japan. You can't extend current economic trends out that far. It's nearly impossible for them to keep the current growth constant for that long, particularly when given their political situation.

Sure you can. It's pretty straightforward. China has roughly four times the population of the US. All they need to do is achieve a quarter the GDP per capita of the US to reach the same overall GDP. Several other Asian countries have well passed that mark and it didn't take them all that long either. Fifty years is really being conservative here.

Re:maybe (2, Insightful)

eobanb (823187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803909)

Arguably, the US has already let other countries achieve automotive superiority. Rail system superiority. Internet access superiority. Health care superiority. Manufacturing superiority. Judging by the way the US is spending its taxpayer dollars primarily on the military, I think that would be the one thing it would be reluctant to give up. We only entered the space race in the 50s and 60s because at the time it seemed like that would be the next military front.

Now that all these 'scientists' with their 'peaceful exploration' want to go to space, we somehow conveniently don't have the money. In time, as space becomes militarised, we will develop a huge presence there. Until then, consider private companies to be the primary development resource.

Re:maybe (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 7 years ago | (#18805617)

The cost of achieving superiority in all of those other fields would be astronomical. And on top of that, some don't make sense at all. Rail system superiority isn't feasible in a country as large as the United States, the population density is too low. Instead, we invested in massive highway projects that could, arguably, become very rail-like as soon as driving AI increases a bit more. Also, for all of its faults, our health care system is pretty good. You don't have to wait to get surgery, and if you can afford it world class health care is immediately available.

Internet access superiority, we don't have because the free market hasn't demanded it yet. It is getting there though. We do have general internet superiority though. And the reason we don't have manufacturing superiority anymore is because a trained monkey could do the majority of the manufacturing today, and because of unionization, you have to pay trained monkeys in the US $80k a year. At some point, it just isn't worth it. It made sense to pay when it was a skill job, but it's mainly robotic now.

On top of that, menial manufacturing jobs have been getting eliminated for ages. We don't have too many blacksmiths, or glassblowers, or potters anymore, the majority have seemed to find other work. Besides, the money isn't in manufacturing, it's in drawing up the design and doing the engineering for the robot to allow manufacturing at a sustainable rate today. Bottom line, as history has progressed, we've eliminated tons of jobs. Globalization just makes this process faster, because you can ship it oversees to get it done for less, before you eliminate the job entirely. It only makes sense to keep a job around long enough that the cost of developing, building, and deploying technology to do the job, is more expensive than the people that are presently doing it.

Military spending is a tricky issue as well. Much more than the ability to defend oneself is gained from it. For example, military spending greatly increased our ability to mass produce things, has paved the way toward clean and efficient nuclear energy, revolutionized air travel with the jet engine, made possible a whole slew of satellite based services like GPS, saved tons of people in Germany, prevented a much greater loss of life in Japan, and created synthetic rubber. Additionally, like all public works projects, the majority of the money that is spent on the project trickles back down into the economy. You could view this like tax cuts, while there is a temporary loss, there is ultimately a higher gain. From wikipedia: President Ronald Reagan signed tax cuts into law and while it took some time, these tax cuts arguably stimulated a doubling in total tax revenues (from five hundred billion to one trillion dollars). Don Lambro of the Washington Times credits the Reagan tax cuts with the eventual surpluses of the 1990s.

For the time being, there isn't much financial incentive to explore space. Lets face it, somebody has got to pay for it. We didn't try to sail across the ocean until people thought there was a decent route to get faster trade that way. Expect the same with space.

Re:maybe (1)

passionfruit (1091373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825345)

let? what do you mean "let"? the Japanese simply out-performed the US auto industry with their lean mean energy efficient cars.

India (2, Insightful)

Jhan (542783) | more than 7 years ago | (#18802905)

Do not forget India [wikipedia.org] , although they seem to be falling behind.

And brazil (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803025)

More and more countries are jumping into the game. And in light of Spacex and Bigelow, we will shortly see just about every country shooting for the moon.

Re:And brazil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18803851)

That reminds me...
Euchre Tournament tonight at 9:00pm in adams hall. Free snacks.
er, wait, thats shooting the moon n/m me.

Re:India (1)

myth24601 (893486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803481)

"Do not forget India, although they seem to be falling behind."

They are having problems figureing out how to get Slurpees to work in Zero-G.

A LOT of catching up to do... (5, Insightful)

coolmoose25 (1057210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803235)

Both China and Japan have a LOT of catching up to do. China's space program is arguably at the Mercury/Gemini stage, although they have far less hours in space than either of those programs had. How many space walks have they done? How many docking maneuvers? How about a reusable space craft? It will be hard for either one to go to the moon soon, and so long as the US continues to fund the NASA at current levels, we will continue to outpace them. Our next ship is going to be more advanced than even the shuttle was, and will be capable of a Moon mission - perhaps even a Mars mission.

What is far more interesting to think about is the parallels with early continental exploration... I mean, Columbus comes to America in 1492, and serious colonization takes much longer than that. Almost a hundred years goes by before even the start of real, multinational colonization of the New World... And the differences are interesting. One can argue that those explorers had an easier time of it because they didn't have to bring all of their food, water, and air with them. OTOH, they often met hostile natives along the way, and many colonies were wiped out before they could be self sufficient. No one seriously thinks we are going to meet hostiles along the way in space exploration, but the obstacles are formidable.

At the end of the day, real colonization won't take place until there is a more compelling reason than just science to do it. Continental colonization didn't take hold until there were private companies of people doing it for profit. The same will likely prove true for space exploration.

Re:A LOT of catching up to do... (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 7 years ago | (#18804145)

Remember though, they have the added benefit of drawing off research from NASA and European space agencies. Breaking into a developed field is much different than pioneering it, and many of the problems during the mercury/gemini era have been not only solved, but have had solutions refined over the years since. I somehow find it unlikely that the solutions being used today are the same, in both method and materials, as those used in the 60s and 70s. Information showing otherwise would be appreciated if available.

I sincerely doubt a direct correlation between time and effort expended by NASA has much bearing on their likelyhood for success for manned moon missions and such. It has more to do with how they well are making use of what is already "known", and managing to purchase or leverage experts who have already worked on such projects.

Re:A LOT of catching up to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18806571)

This is partially true. The Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft is based on the architecture of the Russian Soyuz.

On the other hand, not everything is a given. Russia didn't just hand China the designs for the Soyuz rocket, and due to military concerns, the US is giving them hardly anything. China has had to develop the Long March rocket largely on their own, and they've had plenty of trouble along the way. They're also not exactly throwing big money into it. In 4 years they've had 2 manned flights. The Gemini program was 10 flights in 2 years, and the Shuttle, with an order of magnitude greater capability can still do 4 flights per year despite its incredibly tight launch constraints.

Even if we were to share almost everything with the other nations, the GP is still correct that none of them are likely to exceed the US until they're willing to meet or exceed the resources we put into our space program.

On a bit of a tangent, prestige counts for a lot, and I've got a sense that all these less notable nations never really developed a desire to have their own space programs simply because they could never hope to match the US or Russian programs. Now with others jumping in they aren't trying to catch up with the US, but rather just keeping up their national peers.

Re:A LOT of catching up to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18804691)

"Columbus comes to America in 1492, and serious colonization takes much longer than that. Almost a hundred years goes by before even the start of real, multinational colonization of the New World..."

Yes, we shouldn't be surprised that we haven't gotten men past the moon in just a few decades.

And even with air, food, and water available, hundreds or thousands of people tragically die during any serious, extended colonization effort.

Keep that in mind the next time we feel shocked when astronauts die.

Re:A LOT of catching up to do... (1)

Mahler (171064) | more than 7 years ago | (#18805695)

I just hope that there won't be some alien race we have to crush to get there. Think about the intergalactic lawsuits and casino's at the end of the galaxy that will follow.

Re:A LOT of catching up to do... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806363)

I mean, Columbus comes to America in 1492, and serious colonization takes much longer than that. Almost a hundred years goes by before even the start of real, multinational colonization of the New World...

"Multinational" is a nice buzzword to exclude a great deal of history.

The Spanish founded their fist city in the Americas in 1498. Havana was founded in 1515. The Spanish had colonized All non-Portuguese parts of South America by the mid 1500's. And the Portuguese had colonized Brazil by the early 1500's.

It was only the Anglos and French who were late getting to the New World by 100+ years. Which had more to do with them (the Anglos and French) being European backwaters at the time than anything else.

Re:A LOT of catching up to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18808945)

The problem is, setting aside the *historical* accomplishments of NASA, the US is *currently* in the same boat with regard to their ability to land a man on the moon. None of the technologies that were used to do it the first time exist anymore. If tasked to return to the moon, NASA would be in an awkward position of either reinventing 40-year-old spacecraft, or develop an entirely new craft, which again would place them either in the same place or behind the efforts currently ongoing in Asia.

So yes, give NASA a pat on the back for its past achievements, but don't get so caught up in history that you start thinking it's enough to keep the US on top. Saying "our next ship will be" is very optimistic considering that "our next Mars lander will be" usually turns out to end with "a ballistic projectile" and look at the current state of our space program, which is being carried piggyback on Russian rockets.

Both the space programs of Asia and the current state of NASA have a lot of catching up to do with the NASA of the 70s.

Re:A LOT of catching up to do... (1)

ibbo (241948) | more than 7 years ago | (#18810229)

In turn whom should NASA be patting on the back? Perhaps the German Scientists she carried away and the end of WWII!

NASA was built upon German knowhow! Dont be getting all nationalistic now for if not for them you lot would have still been flying kites.

NASA is not what it was... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18810619)

Don't be too comfortable with NASA's lead. Only a few months ago they were picking through the Smithsonian exhibits to try to figure out how the Apollo stuff worked. More recently, they issued a solicitation asking for someone to reverse engineer the wheels from the lunar rover. In my eyes, these are clear indicators that NASA has lost a lot of know-how over the years.

Having said all that, NASA is still far ahead of the hucksters and barbarians.

Re:A LOT of catching up to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812791)

I think you mean the explorers were hostile to the natives. The natives weren't hostile until people started killing them.

I'll tell you what ELSE is heating up in Asia... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18803279)

I'll tell you what ELSE is heating up in Asia, a furnace in South Karea that they're preparing to incinerate Cho's corpse! Too bad they didn't do this a week ago... hmmmmm

China.. (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803391)

Beavis: "China launched a 'probe'... heh heh."

Uh Oh (3, Funny)

Laura_DilDio (874259) | more than 7 years ago | (#18803987)

This year, China also plans to launch a probe that will orbit the moon.

It won't be long until there's conclusive evidence that the US has never put a man on the moon!

Unless... (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 7 years ago | (#18810197)

...unless they reuse the same props in the studio as Apollo's mission...

Oh *space* race (1, Funny)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18804061)

the newly-heated Asian space race

Why, oh why couldn't that have been the newly-heated Asian spice race? Imagine curry going up against wasabi; new versions of kung pao chicken; the hotter the better.

Re:Oh *space* race (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18804479)

Because the Dune prequels killed baby Jesus.

Re:Oh *space* race (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18805059)

I'm no better. I saw space rice.

why (manned vs. robotic) space-exploration? (3, Insightful)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18804223)

A frequently occurring debate I have is with the question whether or not we should have space-exploration (and as a subset: human vs. robotic space exploration). This involves the "we should spend the money on other things, like combating worldhunger"-arguments, as the more subtile arguments which is better: human or robotic exploration.

I have pondered a long time about this, and this is my conclusion:

We all heard the reasoning for abolishing space-exploration (particular human-based) before, and I think the major flaw in all these 'arguments' why we shouldn't go into space is that they always set economic factors as a premise.

But, although economic viability is important to create a mass-usage of space(travel), I fail to see why it should be the only possible motive to start exploring space. It's a pretty narrow-minded, materialistic and typical capitalistic view on things. It's the same view that makes progress on medication for very rare diseases, or for diseases that are prevalent in continents that are poor, so slow: corporations can't see how they are ever going to get profit out of it, so they all turn their backs on it.

If ppl (including states) are only going to do something when they are sure of an immediate profitable return, the world has become a sad place. (And we should leave it the sooner ;-)

Arguments based on such a viewpoint fail to recognize other incentives apart from economical ones.

And the reason why we shouldn't (only) rely on robots? You can explore, but you can not colonize with robots. The will to explore is deeply entrenched in the human race, but with a reason: it has survival advantages.

A species that doesn't colonize new territory and adapt, will perish. I think it's paramount that humans always keep their spirit of adventure and keep exploring and expanding, because the moment we will go "ah, let's sit back in our sofa's and let our robots/droids do it", we're basically finished, even when not being aware of it at that moment.

So, to to all the people saying we don't *need* space-exploration (human or otherwise); we don't *need* the pyramids neither, nor all those great buildings and artworks, nor any luxury, etc. The only thing we 'need' is food and shelter. Based on what we truly 'need' thus, we should go back living like cavemen. But of course, we don't, and the reason is that we, as humans, look beyond our immediate needs and have (and should have) grander visions.

So, economics (and also the ratio of costs/science output) is often less good with human space-travel then robotic ones. Contrary to some zealots, I do not dispute that. But, as I have indicated, I do not think one should measure everything in terms of economic benefits. Even if you could send a hundred, or a thousand robots for the price of one human mission, it still would not change the fact that robots can't colonize planets, and augment the survival chances of the human race (and earths' ecology) through interplanetary spreading.

Bigelow announcement: $15mil for month in space (2, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#18804269)

The private sector is also looking quite interesting in the orbital spaceflight arena. I tried submitting the following story last week:

Bigelow Announces $15 Million For Month in Space

Robert Bigelow has announced [washingtonpost.com] a price of $15 million for a four-week trip to one of the private space stations Bigelow Aerospace [wikipedia.org] will deploy, with a price of $3 million for an additional four weeks. This drastically undercuts the Russian Space Agency's $25 million price for a week or two on the ISS. Bigelow also stated that interested countries and companies could lease an entire in-orbit research facility for $88 million/year.

Re:Bigelow announcement: $15mil for month in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18809443)

For a moment I thought you meant deuce bigalow... Now I'm still trying to wash the images from my mind. Very disturbing

Funnily enough, the captcha for this is winced

Re:Bigelow announcement: $15mil for month in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18814921)

The Transhab concept is a good one, but I'm not really sure how far along Bigelow is, and volume is only part of the challenge of a space station. The Genesis 1 and 2 are encouraging steps forward, but until he's successfully mated two modules together and has a completely functional life support system (not just temperature and pressures control, but air scrubbing, water, active cooling, etc), I will retain serious doubts about his ability to construct useful structures on such a small budget.

Also, I'm extremely skeptical of the $15 million figure. Nobody currently can provide a launch for that price. Soyuz carries 3 people for about $70 million. He's talked about striking a deal with Lockheed to use Atlas V's to launch a newly designed capsule, but an Atlas V 401 costs $90. You need 6 paying passengers just to pay for the rocket, not counting the capsule. The next bet is a SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying a Dragon capsule. At this point, despite good progress by SpaceX, it's seems to foolish to leave your entire success contingent on theirs. Current list price for the Falcon 9 is about $35 million, but it has yet to fly and no word yet what man-rating it might add, or how much a Dragon spacecraft will cost.

On top of turning meeting the launch costs, they still have to pay for developing the modules, getting them up there, maintaining them (both ground monitoring and on-site "housekeeping" (no doubt rules would be very strict about leaving a clean house) and maintenance (things break)), and cover their day-to-day business costs.

The real competition will be China versus India (2, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 7 years ago | (#18805641)

Count on it.

India is planning on a Moon Mission [bloggernews.net] and a Mars Mission [atimes.com] and discussing Manned Space Flight [spacedaily.com] .

The Race Beats the US (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18805921)

I wish the US were spending a $TRILLION owning the Moon we pioneered instead of wasting it and thousands of lives losing a war in Iraq to Iran.

Re:The Race Beats the US (1)

Jasper__unique_dammi (901401) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806819)

Doh, there are little things that i would dislike more than the spending on those activities; to name some i wish they would spend a $TRILLION more on:
-Spaggetti bridges, although oranges are ok too. (but those are hard)
-Comparing apples and pears
-Dancing monkeys
-Non-dancing monkeys
-Both dancing and non-dancing quantum monkeys
-Velociraptor survival techniques
-CowboyNeal hats

Space & nukes (1)

yusing (216625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806579)

Reading this reminds me what a tragedy it is that rocketry and space got tangled with nuclear weapons at such an early stage. It cast a sinister hue over the whole space program.

We'd probably be "out there" a whole lot more than we are now except for that piece of bad timing.

One of the classic mistakes needs updating. (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808457)

Never get into a space war in Asia?

is outer space really worth it? (1)

passionfruit (1091373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18824195)

don't you suppose solving the earth's problems first is a better idea than trying to suffocoate our planet with CO2 and global warming and then trying to run off to the nearest rock watching the earth wallow in the filth that WE CREATED in the first place? its really INCREDIBLY ironic that us humans are yearning for the stars while totally screwing up our own earth? not only is it counter intuitive, its incredibly TRAGIC as well.
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