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Space Science

China To Launch 2 Into Space In September 316

Posted by timothy
from the more-room-up-there dept.
Doug Dante writes "China Daily reports that China's space agency plans to launch two Chinese astronauts into space for a 6-day mission in September. The spacecraft includes both a re-entry and an orbital module. The article, an official publication of the Chinese government in English, also extends a plain invitation for the U.S. to partner with China on space."
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China To Launch 2 Into Space In September

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  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Uber Banker (655221) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @10:58AM (#11447573)
    Co-operation between countries in space exploration is only a good thing. Build up trust, knock down militarisation.
    • Re:Good (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Co-operation between countries in space exploration is only a good thing.

      What? Did you not follow the US-Russia space race at all? "Co-operation" between an anti-communist democratic republic and a pro-communist People's republic is nothing more than politicized espionage. It can't possibly be anything else.

      Build up trust, knock down militarisation.

      Oh, is that what happened between the US and Russia? Because the way I saw it was that Russia lost, and now only the US gets to militarize space. I haven't
      • Re:Good (Score:3, Insightful)

        by the gnat (153162)
        I haven't yet seen any indication that the end of the Cold War did anything but speed up the US militarization of space.

        Unless there's some key detail I'm missing, I'd say the exact opposite is true. Any motivation to militarize space was driven by the knowledge that the USSR most certainly had this intention, and while you may be right about the PRC's plans, the US hasn't been responding yet.

        If you think any government space program has ever had any other goal, you are naive and deluded.

        I agree that
      • Re:Good (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Uber Banker (655221)
        What? Did you not follow the US-Russia space race at all?

        Indeed. Why were advances made? Becuase resources were pumped at the problem. Do you prefer resources to be pumped at putting 100s of lasers and nuclear weapons in orbit? And FYI the space race reached its zenith in the late 60s/early 70s. 'Competition between countries' moved on to new things - see how space exploration deteorated in the late 70s and early 80s when, a true barometer of 'competition', the amount of ICBMs and targetted militar
      • by mi (197448)
        And we may soon find ourselves in a shooting war with China -- over Taiwan...
    • by shokk (187512)
      Bow to your US-Indo-Sino masters.
    • You've never watched movies have you? From orbiting Jupiter to stations on Mars or even the Moon, when tensions run hot on earth disasters happen. :)
  • Re-Entry (Score:4, Funny)

    by RobertTaylor (444958) <roberttaylor1234&gmail,com> on Sunday January 23, 2005 @11:00AM (#11447582) Homepage Journal
    "The spacecraft includes both a re-entry and an orbital module."

    You would hope it had some form of re-entry module if you were the astronauts!
  • Maybe some day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by turgid (580780) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @11:03AM (#11447595) Journal
    I look forward to the day when space exploration is done by private companies with staff all over the world. Then, the competition will be between companies and not some sort of xenophobic constest between mutually distrustful national governments. The pace of progress will probably increase by an order of magnitude too.
    • > Then, the competition will be between companies
      > and not some sort of xenophobic constest between
      > mutually distrustful national governments.

      You mean, like Microsoft and... uh...
    • Re:Maybe some day (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yartrebo (690383) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @11:20AM (#11447673)
      There aren't any laws or treaties preventing private companies from sending things into space.

      The only reason they don't do it is that companies have never been the type to research or do any long term investment without a guaranteed gargantuan payout (the magnitude of which much rise exponentially, and by about 15% a year).

      A company can put $1B in excess capital in the stock market (or pay dividends, allowing the shareholders to do so) and in 35 years that $1B will become $32B on average. 70 years from now it can be expected to be worth over $1T. Since investing in space stuff is very risky, a substantial premium above the stock market return will be required to get companies to invest.

      The bottom line: Governments are probably best left to handle research, and publicly release the results so that all companies have access to the latest tech, which will allow companies to do what they do best - manufacture, not research.
      • Believe it or not, it's somewhat difficult for a commercial company to compete in an industry where other (much larger and established) companies are getting billions of dollars in cost-plus contracts from the government. That's the main reason you haven't seen plenty of commercial companies in the field.
    • But consider this: These competition between distrustful countries brought us into space and to the moon.
    • The pace of progress will probably increase by an order of magnitude too

      As will the mortality rates. Unless government is heavily involved with safety, you can expect corners to be cut. Now this might all be FUD, but no more than the statement I am quoting.
      • Re:Maybe some day (Score:3, Insightful)

        by isorox (205688)
        So? Arround 10 people a day are killed on UK roads, doesn't stop us driving.
        • Sucks, doesn't it? Sometimes I am astounded that it's only 10, from what I see on the way to work in the morning. Really, employers should stop being so insistent that people are sat at their desks and working by 08:30.
    • Re:Maybe some day (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shokk (187512)
      Wow, because mega-corporations make much better decisions than countries about treating employees/citizens! The pace of progress will increase on the backs of whatever population can be yoked to pull the Titan/Shenzhou/Soyuz to the launch pad. Will WalLockMart or VirginAmazon care about salaries or rights once they have militarized space? It is inevitable that once someone has a resource somewhere (space hardware in this case) that they will set up infrastructure to protect it from others. You are so bl
      • Yeah, god forbid that companies have a dominant role in spaceflight, like they have in airflight. Just look at all the oppression and inter-company warfare we've seen since companies have started to operate air services (for a fee, even!).
      • Wow, because mega-corporations make much better decisions than countries about treating employees/citizens!

        The point isn't that CEOs make smarter or dumber decisions than politicians. The point is that when they do make dumb decisions, you can choose another option -- you don't have somebody putting a gun to your head if you don't accept the decision.
    • not some sort of xenophobic constest between mutually distrustful national governments.

      Why, if space exploration were privatized, there could even be the potential for some sort of International Space Station, where American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts could live and work side-by-side!

      What a marvelous day that would be!
  • Astronauts (Score:4, Funny)

    by RobertTaylor (444958) <roberttaylor1234&gmail,com> on Sunday January 23, 2005 @11:03AM (#11447596) Homepage Journal
    "But he said the duo will be chosen from the same 14 fighter-jet pilots who were part of the first selection process...

    No chinese billionaires or boy-band members going up?
  • A matter of pride (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Odo (109839) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @11:08AM (#11447616)
    The US would never partner with the Chinese. Not while the US shuttle is grounded. And once it is flying, they won't need to partner with them. The Chinese know this. Having to rely on the Russians to get to the space station is embarrasing enough, but dropping to third place thanks to the Chinese would be too much.

    On the other hand, the Chinese have (so far) been very good a keeping the operation of their space program separate from issues of national pride. They launch misions when they are ready, not in time for some politico's birthday or scheduled speech. Linking the two was one of the reasons the Russians never made it to the Moon and one of the reasons the Americans lost Challenger.

    • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @11:11AM (#11447629)
      They launch misions when they are ready, not in time for some politico's birthday or scheduled speech

      But what about Feng Shui?
    • This is insightful and interesting to me. On the surface, it does appear as if China is going about things the right way. I hope that they have learned from everyone else's mistakes and that they never gratuitously lose a life in the pursuit of space exploration as a result.
  • If china puts 2 in space, will 1 + 1 start to equal 3 on earth? That'll take some getting used to.
  • Re-entry. (Score:3, Funny)

    by the_mind_ (157933) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @11:11AM (#11447625)
    "The spacecraft includes both a re-entry and an orbital module."

    How... how kind of them...
    • It's a shame you probably won't have watched the "First Man In Space" documentary a few weeks ago done by the BBC about Yura Gagarin - it appears that although they did intend to seperate the re-entry and orbital modules, it went completely tits up and span out of control. Gargarin would have certainly died if the heat from re-entry hadn't burnt through the wires holding it together... I know we say a lot of crap about the Chinese... But thank god they're not the Soviets...
      • Re:Re-entry. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mindstrm (20013)
        They soviets have:

        - Better ejection technologies (can the shuttle crew eject on the takeoff platform if they think things are going south?)

        - More reliable, simpler designs. (What the US achieves with multiple backup systems and tons of high-tech engineering, the russians achieved with much more testing to find a design that was inherently reliable. eg: soyuz, mir)

        - As you said, Gagarin was the first man in space. It's not like the US space program, even decades after this, doesn't still have it's share
        • - As you said, Gagarin was the first man in space. It's not like the US space program, even decades after this, doesn't still have it's share of carnage and destruction.

          Actually they don't talk about it but Gagarin wasn't the first man in space - he was just the first to return. I can't find the exact article but it was on www.astronautix.com .
  • Astronauts? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fulkkari (603331) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @11:16AM (#11447643)

    Astronauts? Shouldn't the corrent term be Taikonaut [wikipedia.org]? Anyway, it is nice to see China making progress in this field.

    • Re:Astronauts? (Score:3, Informative)

      No. The correct term would be yuhangyuan, or in English: astronaut. "Taikonaut" is a play with words by people outside China, which is not any more correct than calling american space travellers "spaceonauts". If you had actually read the link you included you would know this.
      • Re:Astronauts? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Fulkkari (603331)

        Usually the word that is most frequently used will be the one that is correct. There are numerous of examples of this. I understand that the Chinese officially use the word astronaut, but if we decide use the word taikonaut instead (which our media at least in my experience has), it will be the word we should use, because it is the word we are familiar with.

        • Re:Astronauts? (Score:3, Insightful)

          If "your media" say taikonaut, you should really get around more. In my experience tabloids use the term taikonaut while real newspapers call them astronauts.

          Complaining about the completely unambiguous term "Chinese astrunaut" is simply trolling. And from an aesthetic viewpoint, taikonaut is an abomination of a word, and it's abundantly clear that it did not originate in China. The terms astronaut and cosmonaut both have in common that they are used by the respective space travellers' own nations, and tha
      • by yotto (590067)
        Hehe, ESA "astronauts" are called spationauts [wikipedia.org] which I think is the worst one of them all.
    • Ahh, I wouldn't say that they (or ISS men) are going into _space_, much less so the _stars_. It's an Earch orbit. 350-380 kms up from the surface. Just barely outside the athmosphere. Not that it's a piece of cake, of course.
    • No.

      Taikonaut is an bastardisation by people who think they're multi-cultured by bolting words from various roots together. Perhaps you should read the link you posted.
    • Calling them Taikonauts is stupid. Astronauts are astronauts, no matter which country they came from. This whole Astronaut/Cosmonaut/Taikonaut should've gone out of fashion when the Cold War ended.

      There is no separate Chinese term for American astronauts. Why should there be a separate English term for Chinese ones? Furthermore, why should astronauts be the only profession that get different words based on country of origin?

      If you have to emphasize the fact that they are Chinese, well then, just call
      • The only reason I can give for seperate terms for each country of origin is due to the fact that so far only three countries have poured the national resources together in one spot to have independent space programs: USA, China, and Russia (USSR).

        That said, You don't see seperate terms for astronauts from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, France, Germany, or Canada. And all of these countries, with others have already sent somebody into space via one of the other space programs. These are all called astrona
    • Re:Astronauts? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "Astronauts? Shouldn't the corrent term be Taikonaut?""

      "Astro" being the prefix meaning "american"? If you're going to use the English language then at least be consistant - astronaut is the word for someone who works in space.

      If you use taikonaut, then for consistantancy you'd also need to use anglianaut or usianaut to describe americans who work in space. If you want to use the chinese language, then by all means do so, but you'd need to use chinese words like yháng yuán rather than chinese-s
    • No. Believe it or not some of us don't need a seperate word for non-Americans in space. Cosmonaut was the Russian word for Astronaut (though I'd still guess its popularization had something to do with the cold war). This taikonaut thing is just stupid. Who cares what nation they're from? Slashdot is an english language site, so the term is astronaut.
      • No. Believe it or not some of us don't need a seperate word for non-Americans in space. Cosmonaut was the Russian word for Astronaut (though I'd still guess its popularization had something to do with the cold war).

        Perhaps its popularization had something to do with the fact that Russians were the first to reach space?

    • No. We don't need a new word for astronauts from every nation. Astronaut will do just fine.
    • Shouldn't the corrent term be Taikonaut?

      Shouldn't you have read the Wikipedia article you linked to? It states that taikonaut is a term invented by the Western press, and that China itself uses the term "astronaut" in its official English literature.
  • Tech transfer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rijrunner (263757) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @11:20AM (#11447674)
    Not sure how much I buy into that invitation. There is no real chance of anything substantial happening. China is trying to cooperate with a lot of countries now, but only the European Space Agency has really moved forward with chinese cooperation on Galileo. China did buy a couple Soyuz to help with their design work.

    The biggest red-herring is all that stuff about tech transfer. China gets more tech transfer every day from US tech companies moving to China than anything they can get from building equipment to spec for joint space ventures. Most space work is pretty basic and is only a subset of regular industrial processes. There isn't really anything that special about it.
    • I think outsourcing space exploration would yield all the same benefits its yielding in every other sector of our economy. I'm pretty sure aerospace engineers, especially through pork laden contracts to Boeing and Lockheed are really expensive. Imagine the benefits of tapping dollar an hour Chinese aerospace engineers.

      There is irony that NASA more closely resembles a corrupt Soviet or Maoist era socialist bureaucracy than anything you should be seeing in the home of the free and the land of the capitalis
  • Once China begins to show up the USA then we have another space race, go china! The US public needs to be motivated by such competition to get interest back into space. If the US is the only nation really striving in space then the willingness to dump cash into NASA by public representives is not justified unless it means those representives wont be re-elected.

    Will launching 2 men into space do this? No..But its a start to eventual competition as long as China's economy continues to grow, and doesn't bus
    • Why do we need more mtivation to go in to space? You seem to be decribing one-upmanship, which IMHO is just a waste of taxpayer's money. If there were real reasons for going in to space then surely it would justify itself without the need to have a pissing competition.
      • Why do we need more mtivation to go in to space?

        Because we're lazy sheep who are more interested in Reality TV than possible life on mars or the scientific discoveries we could gain by going out there.

        You seem to be decribing one-upmanship, which IMHO is just a waste of taxpayer's money. If there were real reasons for going in to space then surely it would justify itself without the need to have a pissing competition.

        It got us to the moon didn't it? And besides - anything that makes the government no
  • by Devar (312672) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @11:21AM (#11447682) Homepage Journal
    Judging by their reaction in the past, I wonder if the US will cooperate this time around. [slashdot.org]
  • by capsteve (4595) * on Sunday January 23, 2005 @11:37AM (#11447763) Homepage Journal
    it's my opinion that while western countries are good at cuturally breeding innovators, the eastern countries (while they also breed innovators) are better at breeding refinment. breeding sounds very commoditized, but it is meant in its broadest sense of cutural/societal influence... yes, the chinese contribution to global innovation include paper, printing press, gun powder, military strategy, martial arts, holistic medicine, feng shui and pasta, to name a few. what other innovations have asia brought us in the 19th or 20th century? the western world, on the other hand, are responsible for a fucking butt load of innovation for quite a few centuries (3?): internal combustion, pnumatice tires, radio/tv/sattelite communications, electronic computing, internet, medical and pharmacueticals... the list could keep going. this whole innovations/refinement discussion could be it's own topic of discussion... the asian countries, on the oher hand, have been really good at taking western innovations(cars, electronics, entertainment), digesting it, and regurgitating well thought out refinements. honda element, sony ps2, ringu, these are things that are now feed back to the innovators, but in the end they are really only refinements to the original.

    the chinese will be the country to watch in the next few decades. they are still one of the few communist countries in existance, they have the biggest population on the globe, and they are entering the growth and refinement stage that japan, korea, and other southeastern dragons went thru in the 19th and 20th century. they also have some of the biggest problems in the world; they have the biggest population on the globe(organization will be difficult), they are still communist(not good for innovation), and they are entering a stage i their cutural development which might require more capitalistic injection from the west.

    the fact that the chinese will fly more taikonauts this year has IMHO a few big implications:
    1) we have the economy to support a state run space program
    2) we have the cultural drive and support of the people
    3) we have the resouces to make this happen
    4) the biggest one is this-we're flexing our muscles-don't fuck with us!

    it's also interesting that according to the article, they are extending a welcome hand in talking about working together with nasa. this is a simple publicity move to bolster their rising technical position within the world and it basically says, "we're growing up as a country and we're not to far behind you. team up with us now, and you won't be eating our dust. don't and you might get fucked". afterall the united states government has really taken a beating in the last few years regarding space, space travel safety, and global joint projects(ISS). right now the chinese are on the upswing, they are just entering the golden area of space travel that the uinited states and ussr were going thru in the 1950-1990's(golden area in terms of economic and workforce resources as well as national support). there's really a lot of multi-facet/multi-layered pros and cons teaming up with the chinese... some are good, others could be not so good. hope this venture doesn't turn america into an obedient dog on a chinese leash...
    • by 404 Clue Not Found (763556) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @12:34PM (#11448089)
      First, "asians tend to be good at refinement" is a ridiculous generalization. You're looking at a few technological advances in the last 100-200 years and, based on that, you can extrapolate the fact that a huge group of multinational populations are naturally inclined to refine things...? I don't think so. It's as stupid as concluding that all European peoples are "culturally good at breeding warmongers" based on a few hundred years of medieval battles.

      Even if you just look at such a small time frame in isolation, you could just as easily presume that while the Western world got a huge head start when the modern era began, the gap is slowly but surely decreasing and other nations are catching up technologically.

      Anyway. About space: Go China, I say! Another Space Race is certainly preferable to, say, another nuclear arms race. At worst, one day they'll surpass us and do all the neat exploring we're too lazy to do. And at best, it might bring about a new era of international cooperation for space, even where the ISS failed.
    • Being communist has very little to do with innovation, what really matters is where they are spending their resources educationally and what they are doing to maintain the economy and peacefulness within their own ranks.

      With over 1 billion people, once they become all educated I'd say every nation on earth will be screwed. Think about the probability of smart people from the amount of people/population they produce alone outweighs any kind of deterimental factor.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "what other innovations have asia brought us in the 19th or 20th century?"

      When you are being fucked over by foreign powers and have to worry about how to survive to the next day, you don't tend to have leisure time to think about science.

      Just the 19th and 20th century? Why don't you complain about how the Europeans were so backward and barbaric when the Chinese or the Islam Empire or whoever were advancing technologies on all fronts?

      Holly shit, get the fuck over yourself. Every peak power of its time mak
  • by dalutong (260603) <djtansey @ g mail.com> on Sunday January 23, 2005 @12:00PM (#11447893)
    I think the Chinese should say "hey, U.S. If you don't want the hubble anymore we'll take it. It is 20 year old technology so you can't be that worried about secret tech getting into our hands. We'll even give you 1 billion jiaozi for it."

    Would make me happy. China would be able to get a benefit and the hubble would be able to survive. not to mention that a high publicity scientific partnership with china would help our international record.
  • Reading through the predictable series of replies - and having often replied in type myself (excuse the pun) - I find it scary the lack of knowledge and the assumptions made.

    I'll donate $100 to send some soul who posts here over to China to see for themselves.

    To make no presumptions.

    No "based on heresay" comments.

    To Actually GO THERE and report back.
  • by payndz (589033) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @12:41PM (#11448129)
    I can't get to TFA. Did we just slashdot China?
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @12:58PM (#11448235)
    I'm guessing that most Chinese invitations (on matters this complex) come with something along the lines of, "...and please also pass along any and all technology or intellectual property that NASA and its privately owned contractors may have or use, so that we can better help you. Don't worry, it won't ever be used to compete against you or threaten Taiwan."
  • RTFA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Morons. Read the quote from the article:

    ". . . there is an arrangement for astronauts to move from the spaceship's re-entry module to live and do scientific tests in the craft's orbital module."

    The Chinese orbiter appears to be a modular craft, more like Apollo than Gemini. The Chinese "re-entry module" would be the capsule, with the "orbital module" being the can.

    By the way, SF writers and other students of the future have noted for decades that when the Chinese take a serious interest in space, the

  • by wikinerd (809585)
    Chinese are inviting the US to cooperate in space, but I suspect that they want to spy on US space technology. I wouldn't trust the Chinese government, and I think USA should seek more cooperation with EU, Japan and Russia (depending on its future democratisation). We, the Europeans, can offer much more to USA in space than the Chinese. We have space facilities in French Guiana, close to the Equator, which is the best place for launching rockets in space. No other space power has access to the Equator, incl

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