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China Space Science

China Reveals Its Space Plans Up To 2016 218

Posted by samzenpus
from the moving-on-up dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes "China plans to launch space labs and manned ships and prepare to build space stations over the next five years, according to a plan released Thursday that shows the country's space program is gathering momentum. China's space program has already made major breakthroughs in a relatively short time, although it lags far behind the United States and Russia in space technology and experience. The country will continue exploring the moon using probes, start gathering samples of the moon's surface, and 'push forward its exploration of planets, asteroids and the sun.' Some elements of China's program, notably the firing of a ground-based missile into one of its dead satellites four years ago, have alarmed American officials and others who say such moves could set off a race to militarize space. That the program is run by the military has made the U.S. reluctant to cooperate with China in space, even though the latter insists its program is purely for peaceful ends."
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China Reveals Its Space Plans Up To 2016

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  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:13PM (#38534546)

    At this rate, if we want Star Trek to remain at all within the thinnest stretches of credibility, the next reboot of the series will have the Enterprise captained by Sulu and Kirk will be pitching manure in Iowa.

    • by EdIII (1114411) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:23PM (#38534644)

      Welll..... if it is going to be captained by Sulu I think the love scenes are going to turn out a bit differently.....

    • by SteveFoerster (136027) <steve AT stevefoerster DOT com> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:26PM (#38534666) Homepage

      Well, except that Sulu is Japanese.

      • Depends on which Star Trek you watch (John Cho, Sulu in the new Star Trek, is from Seoul).

      • When Gene Roddenberry originally created the character, he was supposed to stand for all of Asia and is named after the Sulu sea because it touches "all shores"... he's not supposed to be from a specific nation.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by murdocj (543661)

      Right... the Chinese are almost up to where the USA was 50 years ago, so they must be ahead.

      • by mug funky (910186) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:26PM (#38535082)

        to be fair, NASA is sitting about where NASA was 50 years ago. their idea of advancement now is a rocket just about as powerful as the Saturn V was.

        • by murdocj (543661) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:41AM (#38537012)

          Right. 50 years ago we were landing rovers on Mars. 50 years ago we had orbiters around Saturn and Mercury. 50 years ago we were sending a probe to Pluto. 50 years ago we had two spacecraft entering interstellar space. 50 years ago we had landed on an asteroid.

          The December Scientific American outlines a step by step program that makes small, incremental increases in our capability that eventually get us to Mars. Unlike the "invest tons of money and build a huge rocket" approach, this gradually increases our capability within our means to pay for it, so at no point are we going to lose ground, unlike the Apollo program where once the massive funding dried up, we were done.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            Unlike the "invest tons of money and build a huge rocket" approach, this gradually increases our capability within our means to pay for it, so at no point are we going to lose ground, unlike the Apollo program where once the massive funding dried up, we were done.

            We are losing ground though because we do everything as one-off projects. Rather than set a goal to do a certain things like we did with Apollo and then develop a means to do it now we come up with single missions that don't go anywhere. We launch a probe at Mars, it crashes and burns and that's it. Why not make another one and maybe correct the problem that caused the crash? When one doesn't crash why not build on it instead of starting a new project with a different team and almost from scratch?

            To be fair

    • by russotto (537200)

      the next reboot of the series will have the Enterprise captained by Sulu and Kirk will be pitching manure in Iowa.

      I'd watch that if the movie poster had Shatner posing with Nichelle Nichols in an "American Gothic" scene.

    • So all Asians are the same , huh? George Takei is Japanese American. How is this relevant to the Chinese space program? NOT funny.
      • Stop getting your panties in a wad and learn to take a joke. When the character of Sulu was originally created, Roddenberry didn't have a specific country of origin in mind but instead wanted him to represent Asia as a whole... and last time I checked my map, China was a big part of Asia. The fact that the actor who came to play Sulu was ethnically Japanese came later and Sulu's own Japanese backstory was based on that actor.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Enterprise captained by Sulu and Kirk will be pitching manure in Iowa.

      You say that like it would be bad.

    • I can't recall a single StarTrek episode out of the entire franchise where China was even mentioned. Correct me if I'm wrong please.

  • Uh, yeah (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:26PM (#38534660)

    From TFA:

    China's space program has already made major breakthroughs in a relatively short time

    NASA went from the first manned spaceflight to walking on the moon in around seven years. China first flew a manned spaceflight eight years ago; what major breakthroughs have they made in comparison?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by crutchy (1949900)
      the US merely built some big missiles based on captured German technology and found some nutcases from the USAF to ride them. they haven't gone back since because the budget was justified by the Cold War, not science & exploration.

      the ISS and defunct STS have always been massive financial black holes and i'm thankful the Aussie government has been smart (or stupid) enough avoid them and to remain a "user" rather than "provider" of space services.

      china will have their play and show the world how gr
      • Re:Uh, yeah (Score:5, Informative)

        by cavreader (1903280) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:10AM (#38535654)
        Russia and the various allied countries after WW2 all used captured German rocket technology and China has basically purchased all their space related systems from Russia. The best US space based technology today is the X-37 orbital vehicle that can destroy or deploy satellites if necessary. Most of the newest US tech is targeted towards unmanned vehicles because we have reached the level that a human pilots cannot handle. For example the F-22 does not use it's full capabilities because a human pilot can not withstand the experience. Exploring the solar system is a perfect job for unmanned vehicles. If they discovery any thing really interesting a manned mission could be justified. Also the satellite China took out was in very low earth orbit. The really critical satellites are deployed in high orbits.
      • by Teancum (67324)

        The problem with the American spaceflight effort wasn't the construction of the STS or ISS, it was the notion that they were the ultimate and final product and the pinnacle of what human spaceflight could ever achieve. More specifically, it was the problem of putting "all of the eggs in one basket" and hoping that a high flight rate would keep costs down for individual missions.

        Just as important, once these programs were seen as fiscal black holes (which I will openly admit), they should have been shut dow

      • I thought your tone was a bit curmudgeonly and made you seem like a crank, but I have to agree with your points 100%.

      • by Skal Tura (595728)

        Quite big expectations for human race there for our current level of progress. To be able to ruin the whole universe, with our current level of technology or near our current level.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        i'm thankful the Aussie government has been smart (or stupid) enough avoid them and to remain a "user" rather than "provider" of space services.

        Space can be quite profitable. India's space programme makes money and is done as a commercial venture. Space is as much a commercial venture as scientific and national pride one for China too.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by ColdWetDog (752185)

      NASA went from the first manned spaceflight to walking on the moon in around seven years. China first flew a manned spaceflight eight years ago; what major breakthroughs have they made in comparison?

      Made an iPhone clone [gizmodo.com].
      Invited WalMart [wal-martchina.com] to China.
      Relaunched a 1980's Ukranian Aircraft Carrier [wikipedia.org].
      Filed more crappy patents than anyone else [india.com].

      They sure are scary little folk...

      • They are also in the process of building an organic carrier group including missile destroyers, attack submarines.
        They reverse engineered the Su-27 and Su-33 into the J-11 and J-15 respectively.
        They made their first credible indigenous fighter the J-10.
        They showed a stealth fighter-bomber prototype the J-20.
        They launched the Tiangong-1 space station module which will be docked probably next year.
        They are in the process of becoming the largest space launching nation in the world in the next decade once
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by x_man (63452)

      Everyone has forgotten that NASA landed a probe on frickin' Titan just a few years ago! That's a motherfuckin' moon way the hell out there orbiting motherfuckin' Saturn and we set a probe down on the motherfuckin' surface and took some pics in the process.

      And China has put a person in orbit. How nice.

    • Re:Uh, yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @11:23PM (#38535372)

      They're making breakthroughs in THEIR space program, not in ours. Yes, for us it just looks like catch-up, and it is. But they have to start somewhere, and the point is that they are catching up very quickly while we seem to be going nowhere.

      Case in point: NASA's 2010 budget was $19 billion. The Chinese Space Agency's annual budget is estimated by analysts at $1.3 billion. NASA has 14.6 times the funding and yet the technology gap is rapidly closing. China may not be doing things better just yet, but they're certainly doing it faster and cheaper.

      Let's also not forget that the cost of the Apollo program was $136 billion, adjusted to 2007 dollars. That's enough to keep the CNSA at current funding for the next 100 years. China is nowhere near committing itself to the level of funding that we needed to put a man on the moon; why would you even make the comparison to Apollo unless you are simply ignorant of context? If they manage to do it on their own terms within the next century, then they would have done it more smartly than we did. Personally, I think they have plenty of breathing room to make it happen, which is not very good news for 'patriotic' types clinging to something that happened over 40 years ago. I remember as a child of the 80s that WWII seemed like ancient history, but at the time it was also only about 40 years past. Does that put things in context? Children of today and tomorrow can't relate at all to the Apollo program. You might as well be talking about the thirteen colonies for all it means to them. Sure they'll see Neil Armstrong on hilariously old tapes, but they'll be seeing the Chinese space program in the here and now, streaming live on the interwebs (okay, with censor delay), something happening within their own lifetimes. No amount of "we got there first" is going to save NASA's reputation. Ford did it first too, and nobody cares now because Honda eventually did it better.

      Politically, China has the advantage that it's not involved in a dick-waving contest with some Soviet boogeyman, and instead of racing toward a symbolic goal that serves no tangible purpose, they're slowly and steadily building up a knowledge base to make the space program a sustainable benefit for their society. Instead of figuring how to get to the moon first, they're trying to figure out if the moon can be exploited somehow, and the best way to do so. Their goals are strategic and practical, compared to NASA's which seem to be made up mostly of unspecific ambitions fueled by the academic curiosity to study things far beyond our grasp, and being content to leave them there.

      • Politically, China has the advantage that it's not involved in a dick-waving contest with some Soviet boogeyman, and instead of racing toward a symbolic goal that serves no tangible purpose, they're slowly and steadily building up a knowledge base to make the space program a sustainable benefit for their society.

        I think the U.S. has been in a cold war - lite with China. Seeing them land someone on the moon will be a big shock that will either motivate the U.S. to make manned flights again ( regardless of

      • by the gnat (153162)

        Politically, China has the advantage that it's not involved in a dick-waving contest with some Soviet boogeyman

        Right, they're in a dick-waving contest with the US, and pretty much the rest of the world for that matter.

        and instead of racing toward a symbolic goal that serves no tangible purpose, they're slowly and steadily building up a knowledge base to make the space program a sustainable benefit for their society.

        I don't think launching a Chinese space station or landing a Chinese citizen on the moon is g

    • AFAIK they did not lose one man during it.
      And if you consider 8 years Space flight not a break through, you are a moron.

  • Qeng Ho beginnings? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ridgecritter (934252) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:27PM (#38534674)

    Feels odd to be living through the prequel to a Vernor Vinge novel....

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

    • by the gnat (153162)

      Feels odd to be living through the prequel to a Vernor Vinge novel....

      Except that the names in that book weren't distinctively Chinese; if anything they look more Vietnamese: Vinh, Nuwen (i.e. Nguyen), etc., plus one character named Park, which I believe would be Korean. More importantly, the Qeng Ho was essentially a quasi-libertarian interstellar trading consortium, not an authoritarian government. If anything, a closer analogue to the modern PRC is the Emergents (whose ethnic background is never specif

  • by drnb (2434720) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:06PM (#38534990)
    Well at least one of the American funded (Walmart shoppers, etc) space programs has a plan. Too bad its not the US based one.
  • by sabernet (751826) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:09PM (#38535002) Homepage

    Sorry, not even going to post this anonymously.

    Whatever you think of how China's gov't works. No matter the motivations. How is this anything other than an overall good thing? Seriously? We have a space agency in the world right now with both the government funding, the will and potentially the skills to advance manned spaceflight again!

    Worse case scenario, things don't work out and remain as they are(not counting deaths here since that's always a possibility with these and NASA as well as the Russians have had their fair share).

    Best case scenario: They pull off something here and either succeed or encourage this awesome spirit of competition we've been sorely lacking since the Soviet Union and the US fought over the moon.

    Please, keep your racist, xenophobic, nationalist or just plain ignorant bile to yourselves and enjoy what MOST people who admire the stars have been wishing for for a very long time: a renewed interest in space travel.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Baloroth (2370816)

      Worse case scenario, things don't work out and remain as they are(not counting deaths here since that's always a possibility with these and NASA as well as the Russians have had their fair share.

      Worst case scenario is actually: they mount weapons on space stations (nuclear, most likely) and start an arms race that ends in all out war. But the aggressive expansionist Chinese government surely wouldn't do anything like that. It's not like they expanded their military budget by 12% last year [wikipedia.org] or anything.

      Unlikely? Maybe. Possible? Yes.

      • by sabernet (751826) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:43PM (#38535142) Homepage

        a) Repeat after me: China will NOT shoot at the US any time soon. The two nations are connected at the hip economically. They'll continue to play games with each other, for sure. there will be some sabotage, some espionage, some tensions, but China and the USA have the dollar bill version of Mutually Assured Destruction.
        b) Both the Russians AND the USA have weapons in space regardless of treaties. How's that World War with Russia going?
        c) How much did the USA expand their military budget last year? Or the year before that? Or before that? Heck, when's the last time it DIDN'T? How did that affect the ability of the last space race to allow a man to walk around on the moon?
        d) Doesn't the tinfoil hat itch?
        e) Given current sentiments(as demonstrated by your post) and the fact that the USA owes all the money, it's technically more likely the USA would act first. but again, see point a) for why this won't happen any time soon.

        • by Teancum (67324)

          I don't buy the economic arguments. Here is some food for thought:

          In the year 1938, who was the largest importer of goods from Germany? Would you believe France? #2 was Russia and #3 was Britain.

          And in the same time period, who was Japan's largest trading partner? America, followed by China.

          Yeah, all of those economic ties did a whole lot of good in terms of convincing the leaders of Germany and Japan to not bomb and destroy their leading customers.

          If a country will go to war, they will have their reaso

        • by Baloroth (2370816)
          a) That means very little. Also, I'm talking ten years down the line, when the situation might very well be quite different
          b) [citation needed]. I know of the Russian 23mm autocannon and their Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, but have never heard a single example of a US space based weapon. Ever. Nothing on Wikipedia, either. The US does have an ASAT system, but then again so does the Chinese.
          c) 2.8%. Or about inflation. The budget expanded previously to cover the active wars. Whereas China has n
    • by argStyopa (232550)

      You were clear and blunt, I shall also be. It's not xenophobia that makes me concerned about the Chinese program, it's simple geopolitical self-interest..

      Nations conflict; that's human history. They conflict in many venues - on the ground, sea, and air militarily; in media culturally; in commerce economically - and the next venue will be space. I think that's almost inarguable.

      There's a reason that the otherwise-economically-worthless islands in the Pacific were fought over so bitterly in WW2 - they were

    • I am one of the people "who admire the stars".

      My dreams are of a world like Star Trek, not like the stories Robert Heinlein wrote of strip mining and slave labor being exported to other worlds.

    • by yodleboy (982200)
      agree 100%. There's a lot of flag waving horseshit going on in this thread. I don't care WHO does it, I'm just glad that SOMEONE has picked up the manned space flight flag since we (the U.S.) have decided to let if fall (sorry, engineering studies and crap on the drawing board that will never be built don't count).

      Great! NASA did some awesome manned stuff 50 years ago! Now what? Don't get me wrong, I'm a space nut. Just had a lovely weekend trip to Johnson Space Center a couple of months ago. I remem
  • "China always adheres to the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and opposes weaponization or any arms race in outer space," Thursday's white paper states.

    And yet, ppl will ignore the fact that this SAME PEACEFUL SPACE PROGRAM shot a sat out of the sky.

    But even this article missed some interesting points by China. The Chinese government on Thursday (Dec. 29) issued a broad statement on its five-year space program, saying top priorities include developing three new launch vehicles — including a rapid-response launch system — [space.com]
    Basically, they want their civilian launch system to be able to launch on short notice. The west's DOD units want that

    • by ogdenk (712300)

      I could have sworn I watched a similar test of an American anti-satellite system when I was a kid on TV..... and I was right.... back in the 80's we shot down a satellite or two. Launched from an F-15. Stop treating people like barbarians for developing the same tech we love and enjoy because we won't sell it to them. And if we did, it would have a remote kill switch. Not that I want to live in China... but just sayin... they have rights too and that includes developing tech that is equal to or better t

      • Ours was done during the cold war. China supposedly has no cold war. In addition, we picked one that was low enough (345 miles) AND SMALL so that minimal parts. In fact, the sat parts are already cleared out of there. In 2002, there were only 2 known pieces left and they came down already. And this was because USSR had spent 30 years developing their IS system (apparently starting in the 50's). They took out a number of satellites, though it is unknown exactly how many. In fact, USSR had a full blown prod
  • by msobkow (48369) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:18AM (#38535954) Homepage Journal

    China's space program has already made major breakthroughs in a relatively short time, although it lags far behind the United States and Russia in space technology and experience.

    Other than the considerations of zero gravity environmental safety, radiation protection, and atmospheric preservation, I can't think of anything special about "space technology." Sound engineering practices and safety standards come from long established research and experience and are applied to space exploration by NASA and others.

    It seems trite, but even rocket science isn't rocket science any more. The nations have shared too much data and information for anyone to really be starting from scratch.

    China has some pretty aggressive schedules tabled. It's interesting how much more can be done by a government which supports a space program than one that lets the bean counters cut such budgets. But it's not surprising -- China has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to tackle huge long term projects that would never even get approved in the US or Canada over the bleating of NIMBYs and environmentalists.

    It's a subtle difference, but Chinese society has always emphasized the importance of the nation over the rights of an individual. I realize it's shocking to North Americans, but the Chinese immigrants and exchange workers I've talked with over the years think it's a good idea for the government to restrict the activities of protesters to quell dissent and social unrest. Most seem to consider it an honour to make a personal sacrifice in support of a big government program, rather than doing their best to stop the government from proceeding because it would inconvenience them.

    • by crutchy (1949900)
      there are a few notable differences between terrestrial and space tech; one being that most of the time is has one chance to work and one only. with such a low frequency and high cost of launches, there is no room for infant mortality or MTBF data or consumer grade crapware. its a good industry for QA people to refine their knowledge. as with aviation, everything is MIL spec (or equivalent) and traceable back to the billet of origin material, with dozens of inspections at various levels. its also an industr
      • by msobkow (48369)

        I think you overestimate how special NASA technology is. The same high-quality "must not fail" principles have applied to the entire aerospace industry for decades, particularly for any company working on missile and aircraft technologies.

        The only thing "special" about a mil-spec part is that it's tested to tighter tolerances than the regular commercial product. It's not inherently more reliable or produced by a different manufacturing process -- it's just been tested more stringently before being ship

        • by msobkow (48369) on Friday December 30, 2011 @04:05AM (#38536528) Homepage Journal

          Here's a "mil-spec" tidbit for you. Back with my first job at SED Systems in Saskatoon, SK fresh out of university two weeks before I started with them, I was assigned to work on a project delivering to the Canadian military.

          We failed a mil-spec inspection because some valves we were shipped were the commercial versions. The difference between the mil-spec and commercial versions? mil-spec meant they were spray painted Canadian military olive green; the commercial version was spray painted black.

          We took out the valves, spray painted them green, and put them back. We passed the next inspection.

          You wouldn't believe how much extra the company charged to spray paint the valves green instead of black.

          • by crutchy (1949900)
            the difference between commercial & mil spec has nothing to do with the paint color; it's the guarantee you supply with your product. if your valves caused an accident and you were caught out, you're in deeper shit than if you were making valves for commercial applications. indemnity insurance won't cover you for criminal negligence.

            if the mil spec valves were painted a different color to indicate a certain material used or to indicate certification for use in certain temperature range, and the comme
  • It's always plans of what China will do after 10 years, 20 years, 100 years. China seems a lot bigger on plans and intentions than on things it's doing right now. It's like the hunter bragging how much game he's going to kill, or a fisherman saying he'll catch the entire lake. Well, I say why don't we wait untill after you've come back and see what you've got. Let's not put the oil in the frying pan while the bird's still in the forest.

  • The largest problem with the Chinese space program is mainly one of operational tempo. Other countries; notably Russia and even America.... if you consider commercial enterprises like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and other endeavors; are launching vehicles on a regular basis. The Soyuz rocket is flying at a rate of about one launch per month, and in the case of Virgin Galactic they are hoping for weekly flights when they get going. Contrast that to the Chinese who are launching one of their manned spacefligh

  • As long as we all can enjoy the fruits of this labor, who cares, if the russians, chinese, koreans, or americans, make this happen, IT WILL HAPPEN, just make sure to be part of it, so extend the arm of friendship and become a partner already.

  • Before 1940s most US scientists would do grad school or postdoc in Europe. There was a language requirement in many US grad schools well into the 1970s.
    After WWII the US got many immigrant scientists and permanent government S&E funding. They started winning the bulk of Nobel prizes then. And led way in major engineering projects like the space programme.
    China may be the dominant S&E country by 2030, if not earlier.

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