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China Space United States

Is China's Space Race An Opportunity For the US? 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the silver-lining dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Lieutenant General Frank Klotz (ret.), the former vice commander of Air Force Space Command, writes that it's worth considering whether aspects of the U.S.-Russian experience with space cooperation can be pursued with China to serve long-term American interests. 'China has in many respects already reached the top tier of spacefaring nations — with profound implications for America's own interests in space,' writes Klotz. While initially starting well behind the two original space powers, China has slowly but steadily added accomplishments to its space portfolio, conducting nineteen space launches in 2011 — twelve less than Russia but one more than the United States. It's worth recalling that even in the darkest days of the Cold War, the United States and its archrival at the time — the Soviet Union — embarked upon cooperative efforts in space, most famously with the joint Apollo-Soyuz docking mission in 1975 and today the first stage of one of the rockets that currently lofts U.S. national-security satellites into orbit — United Launch Alliance's Atlas V booster — uses the powerful RD-180 rocket engine, which is made in Russia. Washington has called for enhanced dialogue with Beijing on strategic issues and for military-to-military exchanges to help reduce uncertainty and potential misunderstandings, however, in May of last year, the House inserted a provision into the NASA appropriations bill prohibiting the US from spending any funds 'to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company' and blocking the hosting of official Chinese visitors at facilities belonging to or used by NASA. 'This legislative action reportedly reflected deeply held concerns about protecting American intellectual property and sensitive technologies in the face of aggressive Chinese attempts to glean scientific and technical information from abroad,' writes Klotz. 'However, in the process, it foreclosed one possible avenue for gaining greater insight into China's intentions with respect to space.'"
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Is China's Space Race An Opportunity For the US?

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  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Monday July 30, 2012 @08:06AM (#40816881)

    The European aerospace industry seems to see the recent US ban on cooperation with the Chinese space program as an opportunity, and is stepping up [spiegel.de] cooperation.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday July 30, 2012 @08:10AM (#40816935)
    The sad part is, China has almost become more capitalist than a good chunk of Europe and the US.
  • by vlm (69642) on Monday July 30, 2012 @08:11AM (#40816941)

    Since its topical, and in "space articles" we often get real rocket scientists reading, how does the oxygen rich preburner in the RD-180 work? I don't mean the "duh" stuff like how do you adjust the mixture, but what in the world are these guys doing for metalurgy such that you can basically pipe a metal cutting torch's flame around the innards of an engine? Or is it something totally bonkers like they use nozzle style film cooling inside the pipes and stuff (which doesn't help with the turbopumps, but...)

    I would assume if the russians ship working hardware to the DoD that whatever the answer is, its probably not classified.

    Also I might be dense here but isn't it harder to maintain stable combustion when oxidizer rich rather than fuel rich? Or maybe its just "different" for an industry used to running fuel rich?

    Do they use oxidizer rich preburner gas to cool the nozzle? I'm guessing they aren't that crazy and use the traditional nozzle coolant of fuel. Now a oxidizer regeneratively cooled nozzle would be bonkers, I don't recall anything that crazy. Maybe one of those weird solid fuel/liquid ox hybrids used liq O2 to cool the nozzle. I would imagine a pinhole leak in a oxy cooled nozzle would be a pretty spectacular failure whereas a pinhole in a fuel cooled nozzle is pretty much irrelevant until its a big enough leak to affect flow rates...

    The background is that the 170/180 are the only engines I can think of off the top of my head that run oxidizer rich... every one else preburns fuel rich because a traditional welder's cutting torch is an oxidizer rich flame and putting what amounts to a cutting torch inside a engine seems a recipe for disaster. On the other hand oxidizer rich would seem to eliminate carbon/tar/gunk buildup issues. Maybe if you're stuck using heavy tarry parafiny filthy liquid fuels, like cruise ship heavy bunker oil as a fuel, the oxidizer problems are easier solved than creating a whole new fuel refining infrastructure... Would be interesting to know the design tradeoff, assuming its not just "too many bottles of vodka"

  • by dsvick (987919) on Monday July 30, 2012 @08:27AM (#40817109) Homepage

    I agree that, given the staggering lack of support for space research in the US, they'll almost certainly pass us eventually. However I don't think it will be by very much or for very long. You can credit most, if not all, of their success to date on them taking what the US and the Soviet Union did decades ago (that's not a dig, that how most research works, you build off what others have done before you) and simply modernizing it and dong it again. And where they couldn't copy something I'm sure they had no problems with simply stealing it (that was a dig). Eventually though, they'll be at the same level we are and there wont be anything for them to take or learn from. Sure they may make some advances beyond that, but I don't think it will be much or even very fast.

    Anything after that and they'll have to wait for the US to start doing something serious again.

  • Darkest Days? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by necro81 (917438) on Monday July 30, 2012 @08:33AM (#40817159) Journal

    It's worth recalling that even in the darkest days of the Cold War, the United States and its archrival at the time--the Soviet Union--embarked upon cooperative efforts in space, most famously with the joint Apollo-Soyuz docking mission in 1975

    That was great and all, but 1975 hardly qualifies as the darkest days of the Cold War. The Cuban Missile Crisis was certainly darker, and was right at the start of the space race. Kennedy had set the goal of reaching the moon just a month earlier, and no one would claim there was any collaboration in space for the next decade. Lobbing humans into orbit and lobbing nukes aren't all that different, after all. There were other dark times during the 1980s, and I doubt anyone would claim that was a great time for space collaboration, either.

  • by JimCanuck (2474366) on Monday July 30, 2012 @09:48AM (#40817995)

    China has a one child policy? What are you stuck in the 1970s when it was implemented?

    There are so many loop holes in that policy one can drive a truck through it.

    There are exemptions if your first child was a girl, many regions of China now have locally implemented a two child policy across the board, Ethnic minorities (there are 55 in China) are allowed 2 Children in urban areas, or 4 in rural areas, with Tibet's Autonomous region declaring there is no limitations to the number of kids one has. These exceptions mean that as long as you follow a birth spacing of 3-4 years depending on the area, nearly 65% of all China are allowed more then one child.

    Plus there are exemptions if you want to pay a fine (equal to the average disposable income in the area your living in the year the child was born, and doesn't need to be paid till the child is 5 years old and starts school, WITHOUT penalty/interest for being late), or if your a business owner the fine is larger and much stiffer, and you need to do math based on your income.

    20,000×6+(INCOME-20,000)×2 = Fine in Chinese yuan.

    I know we bai gui's in the west still act like China is still in the 1970's but Mao has been dead for 34 years, and most of his policies are either totally gone or have been swiss cheesed since then.
  • by JimCanuck (2474366) on Monday July 30, 2012 @12:05PM (#40819561)

    A lot of the demographic problem those policies created still exist though.

    Verses what our baby boom generation?

    You do realize that our demographics are more screwed up then theirs already right? Under 9% of China's population is over 65, but in the US, the figure is already at 13%, and in Canada 16%. Or look at their close neighbour the Japanese, with a whopping 23% over the age of 65!

    And even if the child restriction only really applies to the least-fortunate 1/2 or 1/4 of the population that's still an ongoing contributor to demographic imbalance.

    It is not the "least fortunate" who are still blocked from having more then one child, seeing as China's least fortunate populations are rural and they have had easy exemptions and tiny fines for years. Its the upper-middle and upper class who face drastic fines that tend to be unable to have more then one child due to their unwillingness to spend the money. Which is why just about every news article talking about the One Chile Policy in China today always ends up referring to people with "successful businesses" as they take the blunt of the fines.

    I'm very confused, a simple look up of population statistics would have shown your argument to be invalid, but it is like I said in my previous post, people have a strange fascination with old Cold War propaganda about China, and its hard for them to change their minds. While we in the west treat our actions as perfect and yet we face the larger demographic problems with out baby boom generation, and our inaction to protect and expand our own industries and resources so that we may continue the life we once had in the 1950's and 1960's.

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