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China Launches First Moon Orbiter

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the do-chinese-robots-need-tang dept.

Space 171

hey0you0guy writes "China has launched its first lunar orbiter, on a planned year-long exploration mission to the Moon. Analysts say it is a key step towards China's aim of putting a man on the Moon by 2020, in the latest stage of an Asian space race with Japan and India. Earlier this month, a Japanese lunar probe entered orbit around the Moon. India is planning a lunar mission for April next year."

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Space Superiority (4, Insightful)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21100943)

The United States has been slipping on the technology front, and this is another outwardly visible sign of that. If it does not turn itself around and fast, forgetting this political chess game it tries with the world, it will be left behind and forgotten, another empire whose time had come and gone.

Re:Space Superiority (1)

Farakin (1101889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21100969)

The Simpson's already did it? Seriously, what is the fascination with the moon? I guess in China's defense unless they make a Louisiana Purchase sized purchase from Russia they need somewhere to put 1.3 billion people.

Re:Space Superiority (5, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101735)

It's not just the moon. If we spent half the money we spent in Iraq on research, we may all be driving fuel efficient vehicles in a few years. Don't get me wrong, I support the guys overseas for getting into a tank and doing what's requested of them, but with leadership like this?

All I'm saying is that we in America could be enjoying richer lives due to technological advances instead of economic decline. Education, Research, and service. That's the next step from industrial progress. We are unfortunately, thanks in part to unions, stuck in the oil that's keeping us from progressing beyond making cars with manual labor.

Re:Space Superiority (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21103015)

Poor public transporation support, dumbing down of education, can't afford universal health care, but Hey, that war with no end in sight is keeping a lot of men and women out of the job market to leave holes for others to fill, even if on a temp basis (since many of these people will eventually return to their old jobs, in theory.)

Every time George hits up Congress for another round of war funding it's the equivilent of hitting every adult and child in the USA for $260+. That sort of pull-together could certainly accomplish a lot of infrastructure, science, quality of living.

Re:Space Superiority (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102333)

"The Simpson's already did it? Seriously, what is the fascination with the moon?"

Actually I see it as a grand experiment into finding out what needs to be established first before man can comfortable occupy a place.....Chinese restaurants, sushi houses, or the Quickie Mart.

Re:Space Superiority (3, Funny)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21100995)

So the Chinese have caught up to where we were in 1961. I'm not too worried, yet.

Re:Space Superiority (4, Insightful)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101081)

Worry.

I was discussing this with an engineer friend. Let's say we wanted to get back into the race? Simple enough, you just dust off the plans for the Saturn V, setup the tooling, and...

Oh, shit... Not only don't we have the tooling, but we don't even have enough kids trained in running a drafting pencil to design the tooling. WE WOULD HAVE TO OUTSOURCE THE DESIGN AND FABRICATION TO --- Yup. Asia.

The only way Americans are going to get out into the wide-universe is as Contract Labor.

Some would consider it a national security issue, some would say it involves the long-term survival of humanity.

Whatever, combined with space-based solar/beamed microwave, there's a solution to 2 problems with one project. Build the orbital satellite factory and you have the infrastructure to get anywhere.

Dicking around with the ISS ain't the way to do it, folks. Don't send astronauts, send mechanical engineers, laborers, and parts.

Re:Space Superiority (5, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101203)

I think that you are a bit out of the loop! We are in fact designing a system of rockets designed to deliver us to the moon once again. They are largely based on existing hardware that is being built today in the USA. Much of it shuttle derivatives, but also some older stuff - like some engines that trace their roots back to Apollo.

Check out Project Constellation [wikipedia.org] .

Compared to NASA's aborted shuttle replacements, this project is pretty low-risk and has a high likelihood of success.

Sending an unmanned probe around the moon is cool, and I'm happy to see Asia exploring space... but it is a far cry from sending men there.

Re:Space Superiority (5, Insightful)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101789)

The problem isn't so much Asia sending probes to the moon (or even men, for that matter), it's that these countries have demonstrated a willingness and ability to pour a significant chunk of their national consciousness to science and engineering, and we do not. This doesn't just apply to the space race, but also everything else we research. My brother is working on his Ph.D in evolutionary biology, and he elected to stay in Canada for his schooling, despite originally intending to go to the US. Why? Because many of the top researchers in his field have been lured away to other countries in recent years (including Canada), mostly owing to the fact that the Bush administration has been sabotaging the funding to their particular field of research (I wonder why?).

I myself am in engineering and I can see this effect also. I have had the pleasure to study under, and work with, many exceptionally skilled engineers, and while it once was the holy grail to teach and work in the USA, I find that most of my professors no longer have that wish, and in fact many adamantly stay out of the US. Many of them are Muslim, go figure.

Re:Space Superiority (2, Interesting)

the_arrow (171557) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102403)

You made me think about this a little... Almost all scientific breakthroughs in the last century came because of war: The two world wars, the cold war and the space race (technically part of the cold war.) Currently there are really no such war or race going on, at least not until the Asian countries starts to send probes to Mars.

Actually, I say to hell with people on the moon! Instead I think it would be much better to create a manned space station orbiting the moon instead, and use it as a "shipyard" and launch-platform for missions to the asteroid belt, Mars and beyond.

Re:Space Superiority (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102527)

I think you might be on to something... If you want to search for intelligent life, just start sending random nuclear weapons out - program them to hit planets likely to support life.

If there's intelligent life out there, it'll come to US!

Re:Space Superiority (0)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102449)

You are conflating three issues.

We DO spend enough on technology and education. It's been a while since I've seen the numbers, but I believe that we spend more, both per-capita and in absolute terms, on education than most other countries. Our space program alone is a huge R&D driver, dwarfing any other in the world. Defense, no matter your political views, is also a huge technology driver and employer. We spend a LOT of money on technology in this country - money is not really a problem.

The next issue is one of government science policy. The Bush administration has stuck it's neck in to what can and cannot be funded at a level at which the scientific community is not comfortable with. I happen to agree - the Bush administration has only hurt science in this county. It takes some real work to FURTHER politicize a government agency, but the Bush administration has managed.

The final issue is immigration policy. Again, I agree that current policy is hurting science in the US. In a bizarre attempt to keep terrorists from coming into the country, the government has made it very hard for ANYONE to get in. It is also much more expensive now. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Part of what makes this country so great in technology is that the best-and-brightest from all over the world come here. We need to get back to that.

So I think that we, as a people, are willing to spend money and commit massive resources to science - but we have counter-productive public policy. Hopefully this will change with the new administration, whomever wins. None of the leading contenders seem to be as much in bed with the Christian-right, so I'm hopeful.

Re:Space Superiority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21102415)

> and I'm happy to see Asia exploring space... but it is a far cry from sending men there.

Yeah. But high school girls [wikipedia.org] , on the other hand...

Re:Space Superiority (2, Insightful)

Weasel5053 (910174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101205)

So you're saying that the design and manufacturer of Ares V http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ares_V [wikipedia.org] has been outsourced to Asia? Please cite your sources.

Re:Space Superiority (2, Interesting)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101337)

Yeah, a lot of what the previous poster has to say reminds me a lot of the fallacy that modern man couldn't build the pyramids...

People would be extremely naive to think that we have come so far but somehow lost the ability to do what we did 40+ years ago. No great knowledge was lost. No ability to produce the materials were lost. Public interest in the space race is what was lost.

Re:Space Superiority (1)

jay-be-em (664602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101591)

Beyond the fact that your engineering friend is apparently not aware of current developments
at NASA, would a new system really be designed with pencil/paper drafting? Is your friend
also unaware of the advances in CAD in the last 40 years? It seems to me that CAD is a lot
more practical as it can integrate with [astro|aero]dynamics testing software and such.

Re:Space Superiority (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102405)

Build the orbital satellite factory and you have the infrastructure to get anywhere.
Err, you've lost me. Why would we want that exactly? To build a satellite you need raw materials. Raw materials to make satellites don't, generally, exist in orbit. That means you need to ship the raw materials to your satellite factory in orbit. Now if we're shipping those raw materials up from earth... explain to me why we'd want to do that again? Why not leave the raw materials down here until the been processed put together into a satellite, since ultimately you're going to have waste material in such a process so the finished satellite is going to be lighter (and hence) cheaper to ship up to orbit.

If you're not talking about getting the raw materials from earth... well where then? The moon? The asteroid belt? Those aren't exactly nearby. Perhaps we could build a nice spacecraft factory on the moon, in or the asteroid belt, but that's really quite another step again above an orbital factory.

Re:Space Superiority (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102643)

The answer is simple: Volume [youtube.com]

Re:Space Superiority (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102761)

I was discussing this with an engineer friend. Let's say we wanted to get back into the race?
Is this the only problem you could find for your solution?

- RG>

Re:Space Superiority or what? (1)

thx1138_az (163286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101825)

OK! Get your tin foil hats ready... Three words: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. A "space program" is (and was) the technological basis for a full fledged nuclear weapon's delivery system.

But seriously, the technology does transfer over quite nicely. Just maybe???

Re:Space Superiority (1)

slashdotlurker (1113853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21103273)

I think you and many of the people on this thread are royally missing the point.

The issue is not space superiority, but direction.

Yes, we have some impressive achievements over the past few years - landing on an asteroid, the current probe to Pluto, etc. The question is - why aren't we out there in person ?

I am not from the 60s generation. However, could one be forgiven for thinking that if we had put 17 people on the moon by 1974, we could have had a permanent presence on the moon by now ? Like a lunar base ? And perhaps, if all the Presidents from Nixon and forward had kept their eye on the ball, we could perhaps be talking seriously about terraforming Mars, given the mess our planet is in (from a resource standpoint) ? And given that we cannot do much right now if a comet or an asteroid decided to pay a personal visit to us in 2020, might it not be prudent to have the human race have another home in the solar system in case the unthinkable happens. Yes, we do not matter much in the larger scheme of things of the Universe, given that we inhabit an obscure corner of an average galaxy, but isn't the instinct to survive the strongest human instinct ?

The projected population of Earth for 2050 is about 9.5 billion people. Do you honestly think that this planet can support this many people, and if not, do you think that the task of colonizing other planets (with Mars being the prime candidate), can be done quickly in a decade or so ?

It is the job of leadership to foresee these problems and think ahead. One of my oldest uncles, who was a Marine, died two years ago. He used to say that you do not pay for the same real estate twice and you never surrender momentum if you have it. We had the momentum in early 70s. Instead of moving forward, we met with the Soviets in space once (1975), got giddy eyed, got our head buried under the sand, and started dicking around with relatively minor pursuits like building a space station (something we and Soviets had already individually done, with the Soviets being more advanced than us) and building a space shuttle system (when none of that seemed to be needed for any of the Apollo's - and in any case, that effort could have been a separate one). This is not to say that a space station is not important, but it cannot be the sole focus of a space faring power that has previously sent men to another heavenly body in the past.

It comes down to leadership, our pathetic and borderline treasonous mainstream media (and I mean both the allegedly liberal and conservative sides of it), and how addled our people's brains have become with worthless pursuits (like figuring out who is dating whom in Hollywood). I used to be a member of that media and I quit in disgust last month after years of watching my reports being filed away because the consultants thought that another shot of Anna Nicole Smith's cleavage might be more important than a report on the educational rise of India.

The issue is not whether we have done that. The issue is what have we done in space that has a direct and chilling bearing on our future in a few decades. Our absence from space is more than a mere act of allowing the Chinese and Indians to catch up in the space version of "I am the big kahuna", it is incredibly short sighted from the point of view of the future of the entire human race.

Re:Space Superiority (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101059)

Yeah, we're falling behind [nasa.gov] .

China? Yawn...

Re:Space Superiority (3, Insightful)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101065)

and this is another outwardly visible sign of that.
I'm not sure you can draw a connection between us not going back to the moon in 30 plus years and saying thats a sign of our slipping in the technology race. Since the space race Russia and the US have kept people in orbit for months and in one case 748 days. The US has sent some pretty advanced probes to MARS and beyond. Saturn Comets the Sun, some great telescopes the list goes on. We are doing some advanced stuff To tweek the quote by JFK: We chose to go to the moon now we are doing those other things becuase they are hard.

Re:Space Superiority (3, Interesting)

Weasel5053 (910174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101071)

This has nothing to do with technology. The US achieved this in 1966 with Surveyor 1. This is about political will.

Re:Space Superiority (1, Funny)

Token_Internet_Girl (1131287) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101149)

The United States has been slipping on the technology front, and this is another outwardly visible sign of that
That's because in the US, technology is the devil's work and SATAN lives on the moon!

Re:Space Superiority (-1, Troll)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101371)

That reminds me. Send a thankyou note to the religious fundamentalists in your country.

Their hostility to any form of reason has destroyed the decision cycle in your government, because when ideology and populism trumps evidence you can't possibly react correctly to changing circumstances. This can only be good news for the rest of the world, which currently must either cooperate with that government or have bombs dropped on their children in the name of peacekeeping or spreading democracy.

Re:Space Superiority??? (2, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101301)

What?
Gee what about this Lunar orbiter? http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/lunarorb.html [nasa.gov]
Take a look at the date.
Yea it was 40 years ago.
Your right it isn't like the US has done anything recently. Like say a mission to the asteroid belt http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/database/MasterCatalog?sc=2007-043A [nasa.gov]
Or a fly by of Mercury http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/database/MasterCatalog?sc=2004-030A [nasa.gov]
Or a mission to Pluto...
But what about the moon?
Well there was at least two missions to the moon in the 1990s Clementine and the Lunar Prospector.
Does it look like China is getting interested in space? Yes.
Seems like you are getting a little worked up with the US just having a 40 year lead at this point.

Re:Space Superiority??? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101885)

What the "space race" lacked for 40 years was competition...

No we are not. (3, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101305)

Just who do you think explores the planets? The United States isn't losing space superiority, the US's focus is different. The US and Russians have been there, done that, all before. Now is the time for the new kids on the block to earn their wings. Thank goodness they are focusing on national pride through space exploration rather than warfare.

The US has plans to go back to the moon but support for the "current" Adminstration doing it is not high. We finally have seen the Shuttle given a real end of life which honestly, to me at least, was holding back the whole manned project in the first place. KISS.

Yeah there is a danger we could lose our superiority, but now that we have challengers that is less likely.

Re:Space Superiority (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21101555)

The United States has been slipping on the technology front

Nah, we're not slipping. China's just doing this now because they have someone to copy. It's not like they'd spend all their time and money actually doing R&D on something "new". =P

define "technology" (2, Informative)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101615)

Oh I don't know about that. Seems to me the Chinese are merely proving they can do in 2007 what the Americans and Soviets did in 1966. Indeed, the Chinese are having it way easier, since (1) they don't have to invent the ideas and technology, it already exists, and (2) one of the biggest problems in early space shots was the immense amount of calculation that couldn't be done quickly and in a small machine. That problem has been solved by the development of microprocessors.

Furthermore, you're overlooking many other "technology fronts" that are arguably more exciting. What about networked computing software? Hear of any killer Internet apps (other than viruses) that have come out of China lately? What about biotech? Have the Chinese come up with any novel AIDS or cancer drugs? (Or any AIDS or cancer drugs at all, for that matter.) Where do you expect breakthroughs in treating Alzheimer's to come from? Or how about materials? Boeing is building a composite airplane (the 787 'Dreamliner') that will be 20% more fuel efficient than any other passenger plane in its class. Can the Chinese do that? Nope. Lockheed-Martin is building an air superiority fighter (the F-22) which is fast and stealthy, due in significant part to clever computer-assisted design and new materials. Can the Chinese do that? Nope, not even close.

Even in the space-related front, the Americans have a probe on its way to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt (New Horizons) and another on its way to Mercury orbit (Messenger). They've got 2 spacecraft in orbit around Mars, 2 rovers driving around, a lander on its way, and a bigger rover in the works. Cassini is still sending back marvelous pictures of Saturn. The Space Shuttle is delivering another chunk of ISS this week. NASA is busy with a new crew exploration vehicle (Orion) for lunar or possibly even Martian manned trips. The Americans even now have a private space industry. Virgin Galactic is taking reservations for suborbital flights on Spaceship Two, and Bigelow has put up prototypes of inflatable orbital hotels.

If you compare China and the US in terms of population or GDP, the Chinese ought to be behind the US by at least a bit. But they are way behind. I know it's popular to think they're "catching up," but they're not. They're certainly moving, catching up to where they might have been, had they not indulged in the spectacularly suicidal folly of Communism for 50 years. But you can't forget the US is moving, too, and generally faster. Maybe it's not moving as fast as you'd like it to, but that's a different story.

Re:Space Superiority (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101623)

Heh. With our economy heading the way it is, who is surprised?

The USSR could not, in the end, compete with the US in the space race because their economy could not support it.

Currently, we're still the leader, but the technology gap is shrinking -- a lot of this is due to where we choose to focus our resources, but how long until, like the USSR, we don't have the economy to compete? How many decades is the US from being in the same unenviable position?

That makes NO sense (3, Insightful)

SIIHP (1128921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101693)

"The United States has been slipping on the technology front, and this is another outwardly visible sign of that."

How does China planning to do something FIFTY YEARS after we did it show we're slipping on the technology front?

You may be right, but I don't see this as demonstrating what you claim at all.

Re:Space Superiority (3, Insightful)

SQL Error (16383) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101723)

China has launched a lunar orbiter, something the US achieved decades ago.

Meanwhile, the US launched another Mars lander in August and a mission to the asteroids Ceres and Vesta in September.

All empires come and go... (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101941)

The USA may be the dominant 'empire' (or world power if you prefer) now but at some point it's very likely it will decline, maybe 5 years, 50 or 500 years from now. History seems to show that dominant powers tend to come and go.

Don't get too upset, accept that this will happen, and spend some time ensuring that the current minor powers who may influence authority over you in years to come will look upon you fondly when they are in the ascendency. I think that would be a valuable lesson to learn from other countries whose empires have come and gone. Some European countries that were world powers seemed to do a better job than others in this regard...

Re:Space Superiority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21102941)

> The United States has been slipping on the technology front, and this is another outwardly visible sign of that.

          No, it is not. What this is is an example of China catching up to our technology, not that we are falling behind. The US is still far ahead of China in space technology.

http://mrsquid.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

In communist China (0, Flamebait)

eclectro (227083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101013)

They launch chunks of lead to the moon.

Yay! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21101057)


Soon all the crap at WalMart will say "Made in Little China, Moon"

The "Space Race" (5, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101093)

We, as a species, should pool all of our assests together and put forth as much effort as possible at exploring space and figuring out a way to get off this rock.

"But Pojut, there are so many issues down here already! Hunger, Homeless, Terrorism, Etc.!"

And a lot of those problems would go away if we stopped acting like little children (our club is better than your club), united our efforts internationally, put some real money towards it, and actually went out and learned things.

We will all either explore space together and get off this tiny planet, or we will all kill each other and our species will die out. I don't know about you, but I know which one I would prefer.

.. Duck ... (1)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101157)

Whoa there! You just suggested international cooperation rather than competition! Better duck quick to dodge all the chairs that are going to fly from the nationalism crowd as they call you a communist pinko or whatever.

Re:The "Space Race" (4, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101215)

We will all either explore space together and get off this tiny planet, or we will all kill each other and our species will die out. I don't know about you, but I know which one I would prefer.

Did you ever think that even if you were willing to "go along with the game plan" that there are plenty of others who'd rather stab you in the back?

It's nice to think that you can throw down your guns and bombs and a great age of reason would swiftly follow but the much more likely scenario is that someone would just hide this gun behind their back and put a bullet in your head while you were working towards some other goal and simply take what was once yours.

We're living in a world where groups of people are willing to kill other people over a god damn cartoon! That should be a sure sign that we're not ready for the Utopian world that was sold to us in Star Trek.

Re:The "Space Race" (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101275)

Which is something I addressed in my post in a single sentence...our club is better than your club.

I'm aware that humanity as it stands now is in no position to unite and work together, but the longer we travel down the road we are on now, the more backtracking we will have to do.

The sad thing is we have the resources, intelligence, and DRIVE to do these things...we are just using them all in a useless way that leads to one ending: our extinction.

Just because it might not happen in our lifetimes does not mean it won't happen.

Re:The "Space Race" (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101443)

Oh yeah, don't get me wrong, there will hopefully be a point in time where that it happens but why dwell too much on it today.

And we do have the resources and the intelligence but we certainly don't have the drive. When it comes down to it Mr and Mrs Sixpack are still paying the bills on these types of things and, contrary to what some around here think, there are ears in Washington that do listen. If we can ever get the masses to see the virtue in scientific spending we will develop quickly but in the meantime we need to hope that corporations see some virtue instead because it's really the Sixpacks of the world that are doing the back-peddling.

It's just like the internet. Where would we be today without pr0n and the Exchange servers? Everything that has come about as far as wide spread advancement in this relatively new field was sponsored by the masses being entertained and the needs of corporate types. Scientists made the initial headway but the real motivation to get things moving was brought about with dollar signs not research papers.

Re:The "Space Race" (1)

ktappe (747125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102085)

We're living in a world where groups of people are willing to kill other people over a god damn cartoon! That should be a sure sign that we're not ready for the Utopian world that was sold to us in Star Trek.
And if you don't try to make things better, the world will never improve. Stop being a "they all want to kill us" downer and try having some vision and hope. Taking a defensive posture never got anyone anywhere.

Re:The "Space Race" (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102769)

Vision isn't going to make everyone stop their hostilities. That's the whole point of what I'm saying. The GP said "And a lot of those problems would go away if we stopped acting like little children". This simply isn't true. There is still going to be plenty of in-fighting and quarrels.

Just look at the Linux crowd; so much cooperation and so many different distro because there are so many with different visions.

Re:The "Space Race" (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102511)

Did you ever think that even if you were willing to "go along with the game plan" that there are plenty of others who'd rather stab you in the back?

Eventually, we'll either start a universal space program after we have an impact event killing millions of people showing us that space is a nasty place and we need to deal with it or we'll get hit with a really big one killing all life on the earth's surface making it a moot point.

"The dinosaurs died because they didn't have a space program." -Larry Niven

Re:The "Space Race" (1)

ShannaraFan (533326) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102927)

Sadly, until religion and politics are eliminated, Utopia will never be reached...

Re:The "Space Race" (2, Insightful)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102963)

We're living in a world where groups of people are willing to kill other people over a god damn cartoon! That should be a sure sign that we're not ready for the Utopian world that was sold to us in Star Trek.

So why don't we just pack up, move to Mars, and start our utopia there? After all, that's what the Pilgrams did when they hopped into the Mayflower. ;)

Re:The "Space Race" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21101409)

As much as I also dream of a day we as a species can grow up and unite like this, I'm reminded of another saying, "Kids will be kids"

Re:The "Space Race" (3, Funny)

MagicM (85041) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101681)

You must be new here.

(And by "here" I mean planet Earth.)

Re:The "Space Race" (2, Insightful)

TastyCakes (917232) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101867)

Wait, explain to me how spending billions or trillions of dollars of tax payer money on a project that practically zero tax payers are actually going to directly benefit from is going to end hunger or pollution or homelessness? And please spare me the "spin off technologies", as if investing that kind of money directly into research wouldn't produce similar results.

Why are you so hell bent on getting "off this rock"? We are designed by nature to live here, we fit here. Why do you think it's such an amazing idea to get off of it and live some crappy life on mars or some other similarly unpleasant place? There's a novelty factor I'll grant you. But there's a reason people don't live in the arctic or the antarctic or the middle of a desert. It sucks, and living on mars would suck too, only worse. And that is why I don't think there will ever be a significant human presence on any other celestial body over and above research stations. The money for your giant project really could be spent in a number of ways that much more effectively help man-kind.

Re:The "Space Race" (3, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101999)

We, as a species, should pool all of our assests together and put forth as much effort as possible at exploring space and figuring out a way to get off this rock.


I like your sentiment. However, you seem to be discounting or simply forgetting the value of competition. It may seem counterintuitive but sometimes divided pools of resources put towards achieving the same goal can achieve better results than a single effort.

Often you'll have different ideas on how to solve a problem. Sometimes you can't really be sure which way is the best way until you try and implement both. Pick the successful one. The challenge is to be sure that "success" isn't due to outside influence (politics, marketing, etc.) but on purely performance issues.

On a larger scale, the challenge to competing ideas is the bureaucracy. The larger the pool of resources and individuals involved, the greater the organization and mechanism to manage said resources and individuals. These environments tend to become lumbering, unwieldy things that require a lot of resources to simply run while stifling competition and innovation.

A project at the scale of space exploration probably leads to some manner of bureaucracy. However, I'm more inclined to have smaller, battling bureaucracies rather than a single massive one... or at least the often difficult process of trying to make multiple massive bureaucracies work together.

Re:The "Space Race" (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102731)

Exactly. While different people competing to achieve the same goal will cause waste in the form of duplication, attempts at teamwork will cause death by bureaucracy.

Just compare the Apollo missions to the ISS: the country was willing to spend as much as necessary to beat the Russians to the moon, but when it came time to work with them, the whole project just sort of atrophied into a minimalist version of itself.

Competition creates an artificial sense of urgency, and (especially when governments and bureaucracies are concerned) it's damn hard to get anything done unless there's a sense of urgency (cf. War in Iraq --> 9/11 & WMD).

- RG>

Re:The "Space Race" (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102043)

Keep in mind that while international collaboration is nice, it certainly isn't a panacea. Recall that international collaboration is the basis of the ISS, which is largely an overbudget boondoggle.

Re:The "Space Race" (2, Funny)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102241)

WHICH is why I advocate putting out of business ALL "state" navies, deprecating (not combining) them to the status of own-nation coast guards (in such a scenario, the USCG would FINALLY get to be THE maritime/policing authority and wouldn't the USN HATE that!) and supplanting the UN to some extent. State-based navies are shitty excuses for government billy clubs.

See one of my sites.

No, they're not about "bringing down the government", but they ARE about putting out of business a bunch of activities that need income curtailment, and need to be put closer to home. A stateless navy being attacked by a state force would make such a state force the official SCOURGE of the planet.

The primary missions would be to:

- protect commercial shipping and shipping lanes
- chase down and apprehend terrorist, pirates, and other scofflaws
- conduct counter-espionage action against nations spying on or infiltrating other nations
- rescue shipwrecked or storm/disaster victims displaced from safety
- other peacekeeping/monitoring/non-combat instigating operations
- reducing the effect of "flag-waving navies' power-projecting" nations will impositions

Liken it to a "federation" if you will, but we've got way to goddamn much fiefdom, redundancy, and international bullying going on, and most of it is power concentrated in the hands of just a few countries.

Officers would have to be FLUENT (R/W/S) in at LEAST 3 non-home languages. Enlisted personnel would have to be able to SPEAK at least 2 "foreign"/non-home languages, and maybe write in at least 1 non-home language. The ships would be stateless, meaning not OWNED by a state; they would not be subject to being boarded by STATES; they would be the local authority in the event a ship in international waters being told "heave to and prepare to be boarded" says, "I elect to be boarded by a Unified Nations Anti-Unilateral action Navy (UNAUN) ship, not your (name any nation, particularly western ones) ship, since we're in international waters...)

No two ranking officers on each ship can be from the same home country, this being to reduce the chance that the local chain of command would go off playing Lt. William Cally or the like. It could end up being a jobs-creation organization, but for the higher-IQ of humans, officer AND enlisted alike. Launch-capable weapons would be range limited to say (50 miles) meaning they legally and physically have no ability to launch strikes onto, into or over most nations. The ships would be highly-defensive, with a mandate to sanitize the local waters of ANY nation, clearing them of lurking foreign subs of ANY nation. The ships would (despite Greenpeace and other environmentalists) tow mines and noisemakers to wreck or force the surfacing of subs trying to conduct espionage. Don't want to be sunk? DON'T FUCKING SPY ON FOREIGN NATIONS, then.

If anyone can propose if for space exploration, then we owe it to humanity to first do it with some portions of military. "State Superiority" is a bullshit notion and fact and needs to be put into the past.

competition test more designs (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102475)

The first space-plane (US shuttle) did not live up to all its predictions of economical reusability. China is using a modified Soyuz as atarting point. The US is goinf back to that type of model. We probably learned more from variety than if Russia had switched to the space-plane spin-off.

Re:The "Space Race" (1)

omgamibig (977963) | more than 6 years ago | (#21103329)

Better yet, forget about money. Just do it.

If you look.. (1)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101163)

If you look carefully at the tail of it..it has a small stamp:

"Made in Texas."

Ummm.... (0, Troll)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101193)

Did China actually launch a moon orbiter, or do they just SAY they launched one. I can easily see China doing this for internal propoganda more than anything else, as well as turn around and claim they were first there and the moon belongs to them because of the Great People's Lunar All-Glorious China Expedition or somesuch.

At which point the G-Go Nippon Blast Power Rocket Screaming Moon Blasto! shoots it out of the sky with its Super Mega Blast Power Gun-shoot and takes half the moon with it.

I ain't sayin...I'm just sayin.

Re:Ummm.... (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101277)

They probably did, as it would be a public relations coup if the US revealed that China DIDN'T reach the moon. Tracking a launching rocket and checking if it was moving at escape velocity on a course towards the moon should be trivial for them. Not to mention that it could probably be tracked by telescopes from anywhere on Earth.

Re:Ummm.... (1)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102123)

They probably did, as it would be a public relations coup if the US revealed that China DIDN'T reach the moon.
Not only that, China and Russia both had the technology to verify that the USA went to the moon in the late 60's. If you believe the fake moon landing conspiracy wackos, China and Russia knew we faked a moon landing, yet didn't use that for propaganda during the cold war.

Unless that was the plan, they didn't tell on us in exchange for us not telling on them almost 40 years later. It all makes sense now.

only one valuable reason to go back there (1)

ti-coune (837201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101263)

i can see only one valuable reason to go back to the moon: clean all the shit the first comers left behind (golf ball included). Honnestly: is there one planet in the solar system that has not been spoiled by man made stuff yet ? Pluto maybe, but not for long i guess.

Re:only one valuable reason to go back there (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21101395)

spoiled? really? Are you that much of a hippie-pinko envirofag that leaving a flag and a golf ball on a hunk of rock is "spoiling" it?

Get a job.

Re:only one valuable reason to go back there (1)

ti-coune (837201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101721)

a flag and a golf ball ? care to browse that list before posting ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_artificial_objects_on_the_Moon [wikipedia.org] 170 tons of it and the only artificial objects on the Moon that are still in use are the retroreflectors for the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment left there by Apollo astronauts Actually it's not so much the heaviest equipment that bothers me, difficult to imagine they would have taken it back. But when a guy swings a club and throws a golf ball away, this is highly irrespectuous in my opinion. But then who cares, if it is just a "hunk of rock".

Re:only one valuable reason to go back there (1)

SIIHP (1128921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101815)

I'll worry about it when the natives ask me to clean it up.

Seriously, you sound like a fucking idiot.

IT IS A HUNK OF ROCK. If you can explain why having that stuff there devalues it, apart from being "irrespectuous" then I'm all ears, but you won't be able to so don't bother.

The shit you people pretend is important...

I won't repeat the name the AC called you but he was right.

Re:only one valuable reason to go back there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21103303)

Hey, man is part of nature, so "man-made" is still natural. Would you rather have 170 tons of poop left on the rock (i.e. "natural" stuff). C'mon, worrying about what's left on the moon is such an insignificant thing to worry about. If you stacked it all in one place, it wouldn't be 1 ten thousandth of just ONE of Earth's landfills. Even better that it's spread out!

Want space? Start learning Chinese! (5, Funny)

RealAlaskan (576404) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101265)

Repeat after me:

Nie hao ma? (How are you?)
Wo hun hao. (I'm fine.)

Ke bu ke yi wo qui nie de huo jian? (May I go in your rocket?)

Re:Want space? Start learning Chinese! (3, Funny)

chad_r (79875) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102005)

Nie hao ma? Does it really help to speak Chinese with a Russian accent?

Re:Want space? Start learning Chinese! (1)

RealAlaskan (576404) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102375)

Nie hao ma? Does it really help to speak Chinese with a Russian accent?

Without the right tones, pronunciation really doesn't matter.

With the right tones, the pronunciation features we English speakers focus on don't matter much, anyway.

The Chinese are going to be laughing at you anyway, but they'll be pleased that you're trying, and they'll make an effort to communicate. Just learn to write the characters, or even the pinyin (which I've obviously forgotten) and you'll do fine.

Re:Want space? Start learning Chinese! (2, Informative)

Guano_Jim (157555) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102205)

Ke bu ke yi wo qui nie de huo jian? (May I go in your rocket?)

Bu ke yi.

Wo men mei xu yao mei guo ren. Wo men zuo so you de ni men de dong xi.

Re:Want space? Start learning Chinese! (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102469)

Repeat after me:

Nie hao ma? (How are you?)
Wo hun hao. (I'm fine.)

Ke bu ke yi wo qui nie de huo jian? (May I go in your rocket?)
Fei-oo - Junk
FAHNG-sheen - Don't worry
gun hoe-tze bee dio-se - Engage in a feces-hurling contest with a monkey
Geo-shung yong-jur goo-jang. Jien-cha yong-chi gong yin. - Life support failure. Check oxygen levels at once.

Oddly enough, all of these phrases are appropriate when flying Chinese rockets, particularly the one about the monkey.

Re:Want space? Start learning Chinese! (1)

kj_in_ottawa (838840) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102869)

So how do you say in Chinese: I'm sorry I moderated you -1 overated, I meant +1 funny, but my chubby fingers had a mouseing accident. Would somneone make sure jolly reapers Karma and mine both get the appropriate adjustment.

Re:Want space? Start learning Chinese! (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21103299)

So how do you say in Chinese: I'm sorry I moderated you -1 overated, I meant +1 funny, but my chubby fingers had a mouseing accident. Would somneone make sure jolly reapers Karma and mine both get the appropriate adjustment.
You mean your gorram fingers had a typing accident. Stick with the theme here.

All your moon base (2, Funny)

josquint (193951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101353)

are belong to us...

Re:All your moon base (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21103117)

Yes, but do they realize it's made of cheddar? Man, I'd like to melt their base down over some Doritos in my microwave for some killer moon nachos. Mmm.

China Changing (2, Interesting)

JoeShmoe950 (605274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101381)

It sure seems like China is changing rapidly. While we are still well ahead of them in Space Tech., they have a lot of motivation. We are economic buddies, but will we enter a cold war with China, if they come to threaten us on the fronts we have historically been ahead on?

In Soviet China... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21101411)

Moon orbiter launches you!

Too soon? It will be funny in a few years.

They Bought into the Rumor (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101449)

The Chinese have clearly bought into the rumor that that Moon is absolutely littered with alien technology. Now they want to be the first to bring it back to China, clone it on the cheap with virtual slave labor, paint it with Pb paint, and sell it to the western barbarians.

Hughes beat them to it (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101473)

Hughes beat them to it by 9 years. Yeah, a private company.
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C07E7D7143EF933A05757C0A96E958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print [nytimes.com]
Kind of cool how they saved a satellite by sending it to the moon. Or if you don't want to count it as Hughes, count it as a Russia-US-Kazakhstan-Hong Kong moon orbiter. And in that sense, this is the second time China is sending an orbiter.

The more, the merrier. (2, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101543)

Seriously - the US had a chance to do something with the thing in a serious way, but we literally pissed away 35+ YEARS of that opportunity (at least since Apollo 17 returned).

If others want a shot at it, I say go for it - at least someone is reaching upwards and towards getting humanity out of its cradle. More power to 'em if they can help establish a peaceful and vigorous plan in motion to reach that goal.

I was literally less than 24 hours old when Apollo 11 launched. I'd like to think that we'd have people living and working full-time on the Moon sometime before I die of old age...

/P

Re:The more, the merrier. (1)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102051)

I was literally less than 24 hours old when Apollo 11 launched. I'd like to think that we'd have people living and working full-time on the Moon sometime before I die of old age...
I'd like to think that when people wish for something, that they were actually working on a solution, but I guess we'll both be dead by the time our thoughts come true.

Wishing and hoping is for marketing, engineers solve problems - except for the ones we create by "fixing" a working design.

Re:The more, the merrier. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21102493)

The problem isn't engineering the problem is money and political motivation. In the 1960, there was plenty of money and political motivation to get to the moon first. Today there is less money and no political motivation to go anywhere. Sure the president made a few statements of where he liked to see the space program in 15 years. But that's hardly lying down the gauntlet like JFK, say clearly where we want to go and when we want to do it by.

Re:The more, the merrier. (1)

GreggBz (777373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102537)

I wonder where is the public outcry then? We certainly have the resources, and for the most part, NASA does what the government (for the people right) tells it. I think they have done a reasonable job with their ever dwindling resources, their not perfect but their not to blame either.

I try to elect a scientist who cares about these issues to congress, but none of them seem to want to get into politics. Why?

Re:The more, the merrier. (1)

slashdotlurker (1113853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102915)

Isn't it obvious ?
Scientists can't be bothered to spend time and money on intellectually dumb and street smart political consultants who tell them to take version 3456 position on Iraq war, or abortion, or triangulate, etc.
There are some scientists in politics. Congressman Bartlett of Maryland is one (not my congressman, but I like him).
A deeper reason is that our media (I quit my job with the newspaper and am going back to school) are more interested in discussing the size of Anna Nicole Smith's unmentionables than anything that really matters. We deserve the leadership we get. Years of living outside the US has convinced me that we are an incurably provincial and short-sighted people, good natured enough to let every Murdoch or Bush or Clinton fool us and take us for a ride.
While my uncle and his wife are busy having fights with their youngest daughter about what prom dress she is going to wear and precisely how much alcohol is appropriate for her brother to drink, kids in India are busy studying calculus or laboring hard under an afternoon sun to get enough money for their hungry family (in spite of their labor laws). I have no reason to think that China is any different.
We show every sign of a once great people in terminal decline. All great civilizations of the past have fallen by suicide and not murder. Why should our lot be any different ? Our priorities are wrong and getting worse, day by day.

Pissed away? Seriously: No. (3, Insightful)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102983)

we literally pissed away 35+ YEARS

Nation's been asleep and nobody has done anything in all that time, huh?

Computers sure seem better than they were 35 years ago. I carry a phone in my pocket. Apartheid has ended in South Africa. Disco music has been successfully crushed, tainted as "no longer cool." Lead has been vanquished from our gasoline, resulting in the virtual elimination of all crime. Wal-Mart distribution has efficiency that people couldn't even dream about 35 years ago. And last, but not least, The breakfast burrito has been perfected. [msn.com]

We didn't piss away the years; we just didn't use the years the way you want. Technology (and more generally: the inventive capabilities of the human spirit) carried on, its passion at odds with an uncaring universe. It developed what it wanted to, solved problems that it thought needed solving.

And now we have the most literally awesome breakfast burrito mankind has ever seen. I'm sure those who enjoy the fruits of that burrito research and development (yeah, like any of them actually eat fruit, when such a lusciously filling burrito is around), had the resources been spent on continuing the Apollo program continued instead, would say,

We had a good start on the breakfast burrito problem, 35 years ago. And we PISSED IT AWAY, developing space applications instead. What good is a glass of Tang, if not used to wash down the perfect burrito? Why is burrito technology languishing, while pie-in-the-sky ideas capture Joe Sixpack's imagination?

Think about it. Life is what you make it, and we made something. You just don't like it.

So go ahead, eat your fruit and drink your Tang, and live in willful ignorance of (and spite for) Hardee's groundbreaking Country Breakfast Burrito. Daydream of a renewed Apollo program. Meanwhile, the Prime Movers of human progress -- the people who make the world turn! -- will continue to work on what they think is important. Is the Monster ThickBurger really the upper end of burger thickness? Is there a barrier that cannot be crossed? The intrepid human spirit screams, "No! There are no limits! With passion and ingenuity, anything is possible!"

Nope (1)

bondjamesbond (99019) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101565)

It's not a moon orbiter until it orbits the moon, guys. So far, they've just launched a rocket with hopes of the payload achieving moon orbit. OP should change the title or re-post when it's circling the moon.

China Launches First Moon Orbiter (0, Redundant)

Seismologist (617169) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101677)

China Launches First Moon Orbiter

I thought this was already done before by the USofA...

Re: China Launches First Moon Orbiter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21102289)

And before the USofA it was done by the UofSSR:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luna_10 [wikipedia.org]

Politically INCorrect, but I just have to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21101835)

If this mission is anything like their food, they're gonna go to the moon, return, and then just want to go back again 30 minutes later!

If you listen hard enough.... (0, Troll)

VonSkippy (892467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101837)

If you listen hard enough, you can hear a "golf clap" from the 1960's.

Color me un-impressed. The largest Country on the planet, has access to how it was done numerous times throughout recent history, the ability to use current computer, chemistry, machining and manufacturing technology, and it takes them over 40 years to duplicate it?

Objective pictures! (3, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21101859)

Perhaps we can get some pictures of the US moon landing hardware left behind on the moon from the Chinese. If they send us pictures THEY took, perhaps we can lay to rest the notion that we never went to the moon at all.

Re:Objective pictures! (1)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102191)

"If they send us pictures THEY took, perhaps we can lay to rest the notion that we never went to the moon at all."


So, If they DON'T send the pictures, finally we will prove that anybody has been there, right?

The writing is on the wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21101877)

It seems that Asia will "pwn" the 21st century, much like America and Russia did the 20th.
As an American, it's my sad observation that we have fallen way behind on the technology front, and we are just a shadow of what we once were. I was walking home one night and I was thinking to myself "geez, I will be lucky if they put a man on the moon again in my life time" and I am 30 years old! If anybody is going to the moon, it looks like the Asians (or thye Russians) might be the ones to go. America has become to corrupt, to mired in bullshit *cough*iraqwar*cough*3+trilliondebt*cough* to even consider an adventure like this anytime soon, if ever again*sigh*. Oh well, more power to the Asians, I suppose.
 

At Last! The Start of a Good Red Scare! (1)

Snowtide (989191) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102033)

Maybe if we all scream "commies in space" loud enough the feds will get up and get things rolling again similar to what happened after Sputnik.

I know, the Chinese are not really communist anymore.

And as a nation the U.S. is already in deep, deep red ink from invading Iraq and the ongoing occupation.

But a red scare seems to be the only thing to ever to really jumpstart american space exploration, so I can dream. :)

The Sport Of Great Civilizations (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102103)

One of the marks of a great civilization in these technological times is advanced space capability. So the Chinese and others are going into space for the same reasons the US did decades ago, national pride and to some extent national security. And what better distraction from local problems and lack of political freedom than lunar missions to stir up the bonds of nationalism?

In itself, space exploration is a good thing. But I don't think any of it would be happening without some national/political interest first, followed by commercial interests later. Going just for the science has always been a hard sell. Space exploration is the sport of great civilizations.

Delusional (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102169)

From TFA:

Analysts say it is a key step towards China's aim of putting a man on the Moon by 2020

Except that such an 'aim' is a creation mostly of the analysts themselves, China has made no goals or national policy statements. This so called 'moon race' is a creation of pundits looking to justify their paychecks.

Stolen Technology (0, Troll)

lag00natic (982784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102343)

Glad to see China putting all that stolen US technology [popularmechanics.com] to good use.

Maybe this is part of some bigger plan... The US comes up with the idea for a new technological advancement that "accidentally" falls into the hands of Chinese spies. The Chinese spend billions of yuan designing, developing, and testing this new technology. Once successfully deployed, the US just steals it back - thereby outsourcing burden of development and cost to China.

Any Oil There? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21102451)

Unless oil is discovered on the moon, it's unlikely that the USA will have further interest.

But they did plant a flag there . . .

Why don't they... (2, Funny)

syntaxeater (1070272) | more than 6 years ago | (#21102463)

Distribute a pirated copy of America's moon landing?
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