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Space Science

China Launches Third Unmanned Space Capsule 333

Posted by timothy
from the space-has-more-room dept.
Guppy06 writes: "As you read this China's third unmanned (except for a dummy) Shenzhou capsule is whizzing over your head. It was launched around 1400 UTC on one of China's newer Long March II F boosters. There's an article at CNN. As per usual, our good friends at NORAD have all the details of its orbit available here, but after last September you need to register to get it..."
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China Launches Third Unmanned Space Capsule

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  • Cool (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Daveman692 (558544) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @12:15AM (#3226414) Homepage
    I think it is good another country is in space. It is a vast frontier that if we want to explore we need to work togeather, globally. The ISS is a start but we need to get many more countries to have space programs. It is a world effort to do anything up there and it is somewhere worth exploring.
  • US Space Program (Score:5, Insightful)

    by milkmandan9 (190569) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @12:22AM (#3226450)
    So what exactly does this mean for the US space program? This country has never been the type to sit around on its laurels when someone else is venturing into new, uncharted territory.

    Granted, it's not like China is going to be the first to land on the moon, but what if they get to the point where they're developing a moon colony or sending up as many reuseable spacecraft as we are? Is the US finally going to start shoveling money back into the space program?
  • by bogasity (517035) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @12:58AM (#3226586)
    The Chinese should pay attention to the failures of the American and Russian manned space programs. Strict government control of access to space results in the loss of public interest and ultimately the reduction of the program to tasks that have been done over and over before. If the public knows that they will never have the chance to go themselves they will not support the program over other national priorities; even national pride only lasts for so long. If the Chinese were smart, they'd design their space program to be self-sustaining using the dollars of Western passengers right from the start. The line of people hoping to fly on the October Soyuz mission to ISS keeps growing; send some of them up. Design for a large number of paying passengers right from the start; create the volume market.
  • by RobertFisher (21116) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @12:59AM (#3226588) Homepage Journal
    This is just an additional development showing China's growing strength. It's economy, based on PPP (purchasing power product, like GNP, but based on equivalent purchasing power instead of relying upon monetary conversions, as GNP does, is the second largest in the world (right behind the US -- 1996 estimate $4,047 billion international dollars, whereas the US had about $6,000 billion international dollars), and is growing much more rapidly than the US PPP -- about 8% a year. In not too long, China will surpass the US as the largest economy on the planet. And it still has a long ways to grow and improve. Eventually it will dwarf the US economy.

    What then? China is destined to become the world's largest economy. We simply won't be able to compete in a full-out space race, on a dollar-per-dollar basis. As I see it, there are several possibilities. One is that we will focus our research efforts, much like some European nations have done, in order to excel. (Gran Sasso in Italy, for instance, is a leading high energy detector chamber for high-energy cosmic rays.) Or perhaps we will still manage to shine, simply because we attract better talent from around the world, and do better work with the limited resources available to us. Another possibility is that the US will forge closer ties with other nations -- in North America, Europe, and elsewhere, so that our economy will be able to compete with those of China, India, and Russia, once those nations get their acts together. Lastly, we may indeed be relegated to second (or lower) place on the world's stage, in space and other fields.

    You take your pick.

    Bob

  • by glrotate (300695) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @01:09AM (#3226626) Homepage
    And China is 125th on that list, behind such economic powerhouses as Kazakhstan, Tonga, and Gabon.

    China is interested in space flight as a method of improving their ICBMs. They could give a rat's ass about Mars.
  • by daeley (126313) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @01:27AM (#3226685) Homepage
    The argument could be made that a recession is exactly the time to do such a thing, as it would be an economic stimulus if planned correctly.
  • Re:Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @01:44AM (#3226737)
    Hopefully this will get America's NASA more funding to be competitive.

    Face it, the only reason for a country to do manned space flight is to prove to the world that it has the expertise to deploy a credible ICBM force. The US and Soviet union did this decades ago. We both proved our points and now both manned space programs drift aimlessly with no purpose.

    Now it's China's turn to fly some astronauts so we will ph34r their 1337 missile skillz. I expect that they will use the US antimissile project as an excuse to seriously increase their ICBM force above the current token levels, so this manned space program fits in nicely.

    That doesn't mean that we need to blow even more money sending our people on months-long trips round and round the globe. We should use all of NASA's current budget to send much more frequent and capable unmanned missions to other planets.

  • by nadador (3747) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @02:11AM (#3226811)
    Speaking of ballistic missile defense:

    Last week the US scored its third [osd.mil] straight hit-to-kill intercept, this one discriminating amongst a group of decoys.

    We've been sending a lot of money on missile defense. We're starting to see the fruits of that labor. I just think its funny that when people were debating feasibility, its the biggest news of the day. But when the engineers start to make it work, it doesn't even make the evening news.
  • by glrotate (300695) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @03:08AM (#3226915) Homepage
    No I don't understand:

    You're going to be very tempted to nuke the USA before the system is in place and you lose the opportunity.

    What would be the point of nuking the US before SDI was operational? We're still operating under MAD. If they were to launch a first strike now, they would only ensure their own destruction.

    Safeguard was a bit before my time (60's?) but wasn't it designed to protect our ICBM's?

    Folowing your argument that a defensive technology like SDI destablizes the world would suggest that we arm all the nations of the world with nukes so that all parties live in fear of the each other.

    Make your ad hominem attacks all you like. Building a DEFENSIVE system is not jingoistic or xenophobic, it merely reflects the sad state of affairs that the proliferation of nukes and icbms is getting ready to explode (pun intentended) and not taking action to defend oneself is foolish idealism.

  • by RobertFisher (21116) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @03:14AM (#3226930) Homepage Journal
    Brian :

    I think you are confusing my argument with those of other individuals. I am saying the total size of the economy is, in the long run, proportional to the total resources (natural, human, etc.) available to it. The implicit assumption is that in the long run, nations will eventually find ways to solve their internal social and economic problems. The US has no exlusive monopoly on high productivity -- eventually other nations will adapt to our solution, or find even better solutions. It may not happen in a year, or a decade, or possibly even a century. But it will happen. This is certainly true historically -- if you look over very long period of time (say a century or more), productivity has dramatically increased in every modern nation. The US does not have exclusive rights to high productivity, and eventually the unseen hand of economics tends to level the playing field.

    Note that Japan's economy will always be limited by the fact that it can only support so many people on its land. It has indeed done very well, but it cannot sustain orders of magnitude higher productivity than the US.

    In the 18th century, Alexis DeToqueville made an interesting prediction that Russia and the United States would eventually come to be world powers, based on a similar line of logic. Skeptics at that time looked at the US, which was quite a backwater place, and scoffed at the notion. Their criticisms are very similar to those you pose for China today. It took a very long time for the US to develop the economic, legal, and social institutions to succeed as a predominant world power -- almost two centuries. I would argue the same will prove true for China in the next century. It is a very safe bet.

    Bob

  • by mpe (36238) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @05:56AM (#3227224)
    What would be the point of nuking the US before SDI was operational? We're still operating under MAD. If they were to launch a first strike now, they would only ensure their own destruction.

    MAD only works against missile strikes since you have an identifiable enemy. What do you do if someone were to simply detonate nuclear weapons in a city? No launch detection or radar tracking letting you know exactly where the missiles came from and where they are going. (Useful for getting anyone like the US president either into a bunker or onto a plane heading away from the target as fast as possible.)
    If it actually happened now the US would probably immediatly bomb Bagdad, only question would be Minuteman or Trident? Wonder if anyone dislikes both the US and Iraq...
  • America seems to have had uneasy relationships with China. As somebody interested in world peace I'd like us to be freinds.

    But as someone who is interested in space travel, I'd like to see those relationships remain uneasy.

    Since the last landing on the moon, no person has gone further then Earth's orbit.

    I'd love to see the Chinese put a colony on Mars so our Government would get off it's rear and see space as something more then a place to park satilites.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @09:01AM (#3227511)
    The cheery attitude most of you have towards Chinese advancement is astonishing. Jiang builds China's wealth just like every other evil dictator has, by holding guns to workers' heads and telling them to toil and hand over the fruits of their labor graciously, or be imprisoned or shot. Farm communities in China that barely harvest enough to feed the village have their harvests snatched away for purposes of 'redistribution', which really means export for money through dummy companies, money that does not come back to Chinese farmers but instead gets cycled into the military or royal coffers. Because of this, the youth, who normally would work on the farms, go to factory work instead because there they are paid pittance which can buy food, food that Chinese should have already because they farmed it. Farms in China are just like the Matrix, "copper tops" for the government to abuse for cash purposes, and they have the side effect of forcing all youth to work in factories making textiles and machinery where they are not paid enough to keep their families alive. THIS is the money that is funding China's great space program, this money that has been washed in the blood of the citizens of China, money got through a bad system of forced indenture. And if you dare suggest that in China the penalty will be far worse than a mod to Flamebait or Troll, you will be chucked in jail and then either killed or sent to a concentration camp where your love of the Chinese government will be 'reinforced' through torture and brain-washing.

    And mistaking China's ambition for exploratory curiosity is a deadly mistake. Chinese rulers above all else are charged with the goal of unifying China at all costs, and that is what they strive for. The Hong Kong treaty expiration was great motivation, now China is pushing hard internally to get Taiwan once and for all. And once they get it they will treat it like Macau and Tibet, 'cleansing' it of unauthorized religions and beliefs through force of bullets, and then they will treat it like Hong Kong, twisting the fruits of its capitalism to serve greater China, forcing immediate socialism. This is the goal of China's space program. They want to be able to hit other continents with nuke missiles, or at least aim them. So next time they make land-grabs all around them, they do not have to fear retaliation from those countries' allies, because they do not think a nuclear war will ever be started over Taiwan.

    I am sorry for my multiple postings before expressing rage, but this is how I see it because I lived on a farm, I worked in a factory, and I am now a refugee because of my political views. China cannot have it both ways, they cannot keep sending students to America to learn technology while expecting them to dutifully return and put their knowledge to use for the furthering of China's goals. They cannot expect us to see freedom and then return to the bosom of terror voluntarily and without criticism. This is impossible. And I will criticize the policies of China until my last breath, because I know their true motives. Do not be fooled by their public speech. There is a concept in China, of inner and outer, where one face is presented to strangers while another is preserved for family. This is how it is. China presents nice outer face for world community, while inner face, presented to Chinese, is snarling and mean and cruel and hard. Do not be fooled. Do not support China and its race into space. They do not mean to explore, they only mean to gain new advantage to further abuse power here on Earth.
  • Re:Cool (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @03:40PM (#3230182)
    "Face it, the only reason for a country to do manned space flight is to prove to the world that it has the expertise to deploy a credible ICBM force."

    No, this is the 21st century. Ballistic flight paths are far easier (both in terms of horsepower and mathematics) than figuring out how to both orbit and deorbit something. Compare the Minuteman III to the Titan IV or even the old Atlas boosters some time. Being able to put a person into space tells others not that you have a credible ICBM force but that you're a credible competitor in the lucrative satellite launch market.

    Pyongyang sending ballistic missile tests arcing over Japan is an example of nuclear saber-rattling. Dehli putting something into geosynchronus orbit is a commercial for Indian spaceflight. The PRC looking to put a person in orbit is an example of the second (while missile drills on the coast of the Straits of Taiwan are the first).

    Besides, China really doesn't have a credible ICBM force. MRBMs, yes, but they only have a dozen or two nuclear missiles that could reach California, and even that's a stretch. And their submarine force could be found with a Geiger counter. The PRC would be hard pressed to match the ICBM force of France or the UK, let alone those of Russia or the US...

    "Now it's China's turn to fly some astronauts so we will ph34r their 1337 missile skillz."

    That's the LAST thing they want to say with their manned space program. The PRC is well aware that the People's Army is no match for even the forces of Taiwan. The reason Beijing is so interested in playing little diplomatic games like releasing reports on US human rights abuses and crying out against US hegemony is because that's the only option open to them for competing against the US.

    "I expect that they will use the US antimissile project as an excuse to seriously increase their ICBM force above the current token levels,"

    They have two mutually-exclusive choices:

    1.) Develop ICBM technology to try to engage in a nuclear arms race they lost 40 years before they started.

    2.) Democratize and develop their economy.

    Beijing can't afford both. Option 2 potentially gives them the ability to try out option 1 (why they would I have no idea) a few decades down the line, but option 1 gives you a civil war within a decade as the people become more and more dissatisfied with their pathetic economy.

    "so this manned space program fits in nicely."

    If anything, the manned space program fits in nicely with option 2 above. It's something shiney to distract the Chinese people and give them a sense of hope for the Middle Kingdom's place in the world as their unemployment figures continue to rise (as they have been doing for the past year or so) as the economy shifts towards capitalism.

    "We should use all of NASA's current budget to send much more frequent and capable unmanned missions to other planets."

    Um... if we don't spend money on manned spaceflight now, when do we? The major goal of all interplanetary exploration is to look for new real estate.
  • by cybercuzco (100904) on Tuesday March 26, 2002 @03:59PM (#3230276) Homepage Journal
    Where is the improvement? Technology improves and factories produce more and more with less labor, but the preponderance of the profits are going to the factory owners so the workers are actually getting poorer.

    So whats the solution then? violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie by the working class? been there, done that, got purged. There has to be a way to decrease the gap between righ and poor without creating a new class or rich and a new class of poor. Marxisim-leninisim just isnt going to cut it because it doesnt work. Social Democracy seems to be working out OK for europe, but they still have a discrepancy between rich and poor, and have double digit unempoyment to boot. What are you suggesting replace the current system, such that people dont lose their jobs, their homes, or their lives, that also gives more money to the people who deserve it. The problem with Capitalism is that it takes a long time for people to get anywhere, usually about 3 generations.

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.

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