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Space Science

China Sends First Taikonaut To Space 915

tuxlove writes "Space.com reports that China has just successfully launched its first manned space mission. "Blasting off from a remote space base in the Gobi Desert atop a Long March 2F rocket, a single Chinese astronaut named Yang Liwei is on his way to circle the planet every 90 minutes aboard the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft. As a result, China has become only the third nation on Earth capable of independently launching its citizens into orbit. " Perhaps this will kick the US space program back into gear?" aerojad points to this Reuters report, about which he says "The article is short on details, aside from 'Xinhua said the craft carried astronaut Yang Liwei, 38. The launch on Wednesday, 42 years after the Soviet Union put the first man into space, marked a milestone for China's secretive space programme, which analysts say has its sights set on a manned mission to the moon.' The mission is due to end in 21 hours." zxm adds a link to China Daily's coverage, and puiwah to a story on MSNBC.
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China Sends First Taikonaut To Space

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:17PM (#7215665)
    "China Sends First Takeout To Space"
    • > "China Sends First Takeout To Space" Well actually I think they already sent a Dog ... so that would be pretty close.
    • by shut_up_man ( 450725 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @03:09AM (#7217097) Homepage
      That thought got me thinking...

      "Japan Sends Giant Robot Piloted by Cute Schoolgirl Into Space"

      "New Zealand Sends Sheep Into Space"

      "USA Sends Iraq Into Space"

      "French Send Jerry Lewis Into Space, Then Return Him Safely"

      "Germans Launch Brewery Into Space, Aliens Impressed"

      "Australians Would Send Man Into Space, But Instead Got Drunk and Went Fishing"

      "England Sends Own Cricket Team Into the Sun"

  • Congratulations! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by panserg ( 555671 )
    It's good to see one more nation in the space. Go China!
  • The tricky part (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elliotj ( 519297 ) <slashdot@nOSpaM.elliotjohnson.com> on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:19PM (#7215684) Homepage
    China has become only the third nation on Earth capable of independently launching its citizens into orbit.

    That's nice and all, but isn't the tricky part bringing them back?

    Let's see what happens in 21 hours.
    • Both tricky... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Goonie ( 8651 ) *
      They're both tricky. America's had accidents in both phases. In fact, the "staying alive whilst up there" part is pretty tough too - remember Apollo 13?
      • Yeah, but Apollo 13 kind of shows how much easier it is to recover from accidents once in space. All three astronauts survived *that* mishap. I can't think of any equivelently serious malfunction while launching or landing that didn't kill the crew.

        (Also, note how many probes have had glitches while cruising in space and recovered versus how many have recovered from take-off or landing mistakes.)
    • Re:The tricky part (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:33PM (#7215826) Homepage
      Eh, not entirely. Like with aircraft, the most dangerous bit tends to be launch and landing. (Note that of the three cases of fatalities, one was on the launch pad (for a test, but I'd say it still is indicative), one was just after launch, and the final was on landing.) Landing tends to be most coasting/parachuting, which is relatively easy to do right. In fact, you can make it very safe by clever design of the module. (I believe that the Mercury and Apollo capsules were actually designed to always tend to re-enter in the correct orientation.)

      Launch is more dangerous in some ways if only because you've got X tons of very flammable (dare I say explosive?) materials under your butt. A slip-up there will tend to be much harder to fix or escape from.
  • alt news source (Score:2, Informative)

    by jaredmauch ( 633928 )
    CCTV.com [cctv.com] can also provide you with chinese local news. I'm watching CCTV9 (english) on DirecTV currently. It's on their 110 satellite, so you need the "oval dish" and compatible receiver. Channel 455. Not surprising, Nasa TV has no coverage.

    Hopefully this will cause NASA and the US gov't to focus more on the need for ongoing space exploration.

    • Is it being broadcast live? From what I heard China stopped live coverage of their space program after a few unfortunate incidents involving ground casaulties [floridatoday.com] (though I don't think the linked article is the one which created the blockage of live reporting/broadasts).
      • Yes - it was. I am watching CCTV 9 here in China, and the coverage is intense (as I expected it to be). So far everything seems to be going well. The landing should be around 6AM tomorrow - not sure whether I will be awake though.
  • Has anyone gotten a chance to hear about the equipment they're using? It's mostly russian Soyez hardware isn't it? More information in this department would be interesting, I know NASA based rocket design off of ICBM's in the early program, did china go the same way?
    • From what I've read it is based somewhat on the Soyuz design, but a substantial portion is "homegrown" in China.

      • well as far as i know the missle is variant american of design.. assuming of course it was based on the military missle program which was started by an american scientist and the capsule is suposed to be an upgraded syouz.
        I think that is besided the point though. This is a rather remarkable achievement. I hope it gives nasa a kick in the pants that i need to start bing innovative again
    • Re:Questions (Score:2, Informative)

      by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 )

      "The Shenzhou spacecraft appears similar to the Russian Soyuz, but is different in dimensions (slightly larger and heavier) and does not seem to use any detailed parts copied from the Soyuz or built under license. Therefore although it follows the classic layout of the Soyuz, adopts many of the same technical solutions, and the re-entry vehicle has the same shape, it cannot be considered strictly a 'copy'. And if one considers Shenzhou to be a copy of the
      • ...before you remove the speck in your brothers eye.

        I'm all for the Chinese entering space, but like the Soviets before and after the Second World War and the reconstruction of Germany in the 30s these technological and engineering feats have been accomplished through social and political changes which lead to the deaths of millions and the destruction of cultural identities for millions more.

        I can't stand the hipocrisy any more. China is killing their citizens, but the G8 causing economical turmoil

      • From what I've read, the most importance Russian assistance was crew training. The capsul appears based on Soyuz, but was extensively modified and made in China. The LM-2F is based on the DF-5 ICBM with strapon solids (similar to Titan). The pictures I've seen of the Jiuquan launch complex show it is huge-- if you see a picture, look at the flame buckets at the main pad used for this launch--they are massive, comparable to what we used for Apollo and what the Soviets used for Energa. It looks like the S
    • No, they've made their own equipment, they had technical help from the Russians, and they've ended up with a vaguely similar design, but as far as I know it's purely Chinese manufactured.
    • Re:Questions (Score:3, Informative)

      by Erbo ( 384 )
      The Shenzhou's design is based on that of the Soyuz, with the same three-module construction, but it's slightly larger. They don't share any parts in common. (The Soyuz, in turn, bears a strong resemblance to General Electric's proposed Apollo spacecraft.) Meanwhile, the Long March CZ-2F booster is said to be descended from the DF-4, the first Chinese ICBM.

      See this link [astronautix.com]. This link [astronautix.com] is also relevant; it has various facts and figures on the Shenzhou.

  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:23PM (#7215725)
    Does anyone know how to say, "Capricorn One", in Chinese?
    • According to BabelFish, the phrase would be "ZR--re". However, when I translate it back the phrase becomes "The goat sits one". Guess we know where the Chinese now stand.

      Then again, translating the phrase "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" into Chinese and back yields, "One half step manner, one giant leap is the humanity." Just remember that.

  • I want flyover info (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dpille ( 547949 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:24PM (#7215739)
    and I'm sure everybody else wants it too. NORAD [norad.mil] has nothing, NASA [nasa.gov] has nothing, space.com [space.com] has nothing, and I can't read Chinese.

    Like it needs to be said, but if anybody stumbles across that information, totally post it.
  • GO CHINA! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lommer ( 566164 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:24PM (#7215743)
    Given the comments I've heard recently here on slashdot, I think I speak for many of us when I say GO CHINA!

    Sincerest congratulations to the Chinese. I hope everyone here realizes what a momentous occaision in history has just occured - This may well be remembered as the beginning of the second space race.
    • Re:GO CHINA! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by why-is-it ( 318134 )
      This may well be remembered as the beginning of the second space race.

      If so, it will be interesting to see whether history judges it to have been worth it. I would think that there are immediate problems down here on earth that need to be solved and spending lots of money on a really interesting dream may not be the best way to allocate scarce resources...

      On a separate note, I wonder if the people who argue that NASA faked the moon landings will question this as well?
      • Speaking of the moon landings, I hope that china doens't stop after the PR dies down, and actually does some cool stuff like permanent moon bases and manned mars missions. With the amount thats been spent on redundant spy satellites and expired/ing bombs by the military here in america we could have done some much more interesting and beneficial(to humanity) things.
      • Much of the money that is ineffiently spent on space exploration could, in theory, be put to good use feeding the hungry (or, vastly more importantly, making them able to feed themselves).

        Do you honestly think it will happen? I think, in America at least, that the money would just be dumped somewhere less promising, and that no money would actually truly help people.

        A perfect government would use the money to solve its country's problems, and not on exploration. However, that 1: presumes that exploration
      • Re:GO CHINA! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Moofie ( 22272 ) <lee@@@ringofsaturn...com> on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @03:22AM (#7217138) Homepage
        You know, anybody who thinks that space research and development isn't ABSURDLY PROFITABLE need only look at the tax revenue generated by the communications satellite industry, and compare that to NASA's budget for, say, the last 50 years.

        So far, space exploration has been CHEAP. Thinking that you have better ways to spend the $1 your taxes contributed to NASA's budget this year is just ridiculous. There are A LOT of other places we could carve out serious money from the federal budget. NASA is small potatoes.

        Speaking of agriculture, how much did we pay people to not grow stuff this year? Just checking.

        An aside: I think NASA is doing a terrible job of exploring and exploiting space. Yet another unmanned probe is just not enough to get people engaged in space travel. The science is great, but the real reason to go to space is to explore new frontiers, and settle them. Anything that does not aim directly at that goal is wasting time.

        Humans are, by nature, explorers. I believe that much of the strife and ennui we feel today is because we don't have the hope of being able to go to a new place, and make it a home. I believe that the best and the brightest have always been willing to settle new lands, and I would LOVE to be one of the next generation.
  • If you read the Space.com aritle, it points to an indian article calling the chinese space mission "A Joke". It goes on to say that "the [chinese space program] should be refferd to as the great creep forward" (reffering to the great LEAP forward). You can taste the animosity from the great subcontinnet.
    (I don't have the link, but you can google for it, or search the space.com article)

    This is really big news for the fans of space exploration, but I am saddend to say that I don't think that this will ignite
    • this is the quote from http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/shenzhou5_la u nch_031014.html

      "Another view, expressed before the launch, comes from The Times of India, which in an editorial Monday called the Shenzhou 5 launch a "joke."

      "It would be better to call it China's Late Creep Forward, given that Beijing is attempting to showcase a four-decade-old technology. If this is China's idea of arriving, then it's come at a time when the other two spacefaring nations have left it light years behind," the publi
  • Is anyone actually verifying this? Or are we just trusting the Chineese government that they have a man in space. I mean, is someone from a non-government controlled media outlet going to watch this guy land and climb out of the capsule?

    Seriously, if you think the Apollo moon landing conspiracies are bad...
  • by minus_273 ( 174041 ) <aaaaaNO@SPAMSPAM.yahoo.com> on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:25PM (#7215755) Journal
    this is great news. if nothing else than the fact that the inidans reacted like this:

    Another view, expressed before the launch, comes from The Times of India, which in an editorial Monday called the Shenzhou 5 launch a "joke." "It would be better to call it China's Late Creep Forward, given that Beijing is attempting to showcase a four-decade-old technology. If this is China's idea of arriving, then it's come at a time when the other two spacefaring nations have left it light years behind," the publication said.

    Can you say green :-p anything that pisses off the indians is good in my book!
  • While this is no small achievement, does it *really* matter? The space race ended some time ago...

    No doubt their are factions within the Chinese government who really want the propaganda coup, but is there any more to this than just some positive press?

    Good for them and all, and I hope their astronaut gets back in one piece. Yet I have to wonder if it's all worth it. I suspect that there are more important things that their goverment could spend money on. Parts of China are quite backwards, and surely t
    • Enter the new space race.

      Instead of wasting resources on social program moneysinks, China is opening the door to the next step in human space exploration.

    • No doubt their are factions within the Chinese government who really want the propaganda coup, but is there any more to this than just some positive press?

      Sort of like most of the US projects through Apollo? (And, some would argue, the ISS.) Sure, they finally sent a real scientist along on Apollo 17 ... the last Apollo mission.

      In all fairness though, governments in many different nations have their spending priorities all messed up.

      Ain't that the truth. For instance, parts of the US are quite

  • NASA's Offical Reply (Score:3, Informative)

    by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:26PM (#7215763) Homepage

    NASA's offical response:

    NASA Administrator Marks China's Space Milestone

    The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe about China's first successful human space flight.

    "This launch is an important achievement in the history of human exploration. China, after Russia and the United States, is only the third nation to successfully launch humans into space.

    "The Chinese people have a long and distinguished history of exploration. NASA wishes China a continued safe human space flight program.

    What their real response (measure in actions, not press-relases) remains to be seen, of course.

    • "The Chinese people have a long and distinguished history of exploration.

      Odd. I was never taught anything in school about China's exploration. In fact, I remember learning that while Europe was going power-crazy and grasping for more land, China minded its own business...

      Don't get me wrong. This is a GOOD thing, and I wish that the US would learn to do the same
      • No, the Chinese were quite adventurous during Europe's Middle Age. They were exploring the Indian Ocean as far as the Cape of Good Hope. But a change of leadership brought a change of policy. My understanding is that they exploration wasn't yeilding enough immediate benefits, so they basically cancelled it. Leaving the Europeans free to explore and profit later.
      • you are joking right? china were the first major explorers centuries ahead of europe. there was a major decilne in chinese abilitya round teh time europe began to rise. Chinese had ships taht could have vistied america.. whether they did or not is up for debate but the ability was there, no need denying it
      • Odd. I was never taught anything in school about China's exploration. In fact, I remember learning that while Europe was going power-crazy and grasping for more land, China minded its own business...

        Me too, until I read Landes' _The Wealth and Poverty Of Nations_, which is a fascinating economic view of history of the past thousand years. The Chinese pretty much had the Europeans beaten in shipbuilding:

        "[...] The biggest were about 400 feet long, 160 feet wide (compare the 85 feet of Columbus's Sant

      • I was never taught anything in school about China's exploration

        Well that's not the fault of the Chinese, I think.

        In the early 1400's Cheng Ho (Zheng He) made 7 voyages towards the western world, reaching Africa. He took more than 27,000 people in 320+ ships with him on some voyages. The largest ships weighed 1500 tons, were 180 meters long, and held 1000 people. See here [chinapage.com] to see how vastly larger a treasure ship was than the Santa Maria, built 87 years later.

  • by Chairboy ( 88841 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:27PM (#7215766) Homepage
    Of interest, I believe this is the first time since 1969 that a single person has traveled alone in space. Every US flight since Mercury has had at least 2 people, the last 1 person flight was when the Soyuz was being validated.

    Sadly, Komarov (the pilot of Soyuz 1) died when his spacecraft impacted the ground. I hope this brave Chinese pilot will have better luck.

    • Well, technically the CMP of Apollo 17 (you know, the poor guy who had to stay behind in the Apollo capsule while the other two were off on the moon) would have been the last solo flyer, which puts it about 1972.

      Certainly it wasn't a solo launch, but you have to appreciate someone who is flying behind the moon, solo, with no human contact whatsoever. The CMPs of Apollo 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 for a time were more "alone" than any other person in the history of mankind.
  • Now to hope that they got everything right for a safe return. Not much chance of making repairs if they didn't.
  • by RocketJeff ( 46275 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:27PM (#7215775) Homepage
    Taikonaut was the term coined by an American (IIRC) observer of the Chinese program. The Chinese use "Yuhangyuan" which is closer to a proper translation of astronaut.

    Taikonaut was formed by taking the Chinese Chinese word for 'Space' and adding the '-onaut' ending.
  • I don't get that....I mean, the US did what China is doing 40+ years ago....what, do we need to spend billions and billions more just for the sake of national pride, to show how far ahead of another country we are? Seems a bad reason to me.

    (btw, congratulations China!)
  • If the announcement has been made, it has been successful. Time to pop the champaign and give a solid salute on a major accomplishment.

    For those in the United States, ABC News [go.com] television program NightLine [go.com] is doing a special 1 hour program on the subject. There are web links to the story on that page as well. This should be an interesting program to watch, and seeing it on television does bring some reality to the whole thing rather than reading about it on Slashdot. It is also nice to see the mainstrea
  • by Tewley ( 415350 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:30PM (#7215802)
    There's an article [msnbc.com] by James Oberg, space expert, on the spacecraft hardware design decisions the Chinese have made. To sum it up -- they are indeed very serious about being in this game for the long haul (or Long March, whatever).

    They took their sweet time for a very good reason, and have every intention of leapfrogging past the mistakes of the US and Russians. Slow and steady wins the race.
  • by Dukeofshadows ( 607689 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:34PM (#7215835) Journal
    I congratulate the Chinese on their achievement, it is truly awesome for them to put a man in orbit. However I have to wonder about how the world, especially the US, will react in the long-term to an accelerating Chinese space program. Mayalsia has announced that it wants to send a cosmonaut up to the ISS, India has hinted that it wants a manned space program, Japan has a shuttle in the works, and the European Space Agency has yet to even plan for manned space travel after the Hermes shuttle failed to materialize.

    Overall this may be the spark of a new space race. No one wants to see their neighbors achieve a presence in space that they cannot reach, thus we open the door for half-a-dozen groups to begin sending men into space for political and scientific purposes. China has already announced that they intend to build their own station in orbit to compete with the ISS, and old USSR/Russian technology/training is for sale to whoever can afford it (India, ESA, USA, etc.). If manned spacefaring technology is truly the passport to being a first-rate power of the 21st century, we will see almost every nation with ballistic missile technology attempting at least some sort of manned spaceflight capacity.

    Thus a new space race may prove detrimental since most of the technology is dual-use. No doubt, it would be uber-cool to have observatories on the backside of the moon and a space station comparable to those seen only in sci-fi platforms thus far. Microwave solar power systems like those under development at the University of Kyoto could solve most of the world's power problems. Yet these also become quite potent orbital weapons capable of incinerating missile silos, labs, and cities is "accidentally misalinged". Space rockets were ballistic missiles, and the whole of composite materials, microcomputers, velcro, and hosts od other civilican and military discoveries trace their way back to the Space Race of the 1960s.

    At worst we might be seeing the beginnings of a new arms race. Hopefully the initiative by China will evolve into an independent space station that goads India, Japan, the ESA, and USA to seriously pump funding back into their own programs and develop the spacefaring technology of 2001 by 2051. Maybe whoever said, "the 1960s were a decade transplanted from the 21st century because of the space race" will be proven right after all. If the US does not get off its duff soon, we may see a Chinese camera on the moon looking at two taikonauts wondering whether to take down the American flag still found at the Sea of Tranquility before we know it.

    Anyone else have any thoughts/comments?
    • This is a good question. I doubt that NASA, the ESA, or the Russian Space Prgram will immediately recieve more funding as a result of this. However, China has stated that they are aiming for a permanent moon base. Lyndon B. Johnson once said "I do not believe that this generation of Americans is willing to resign itself to going to bed each night by the light of a Communist moon." I doubt that this generation will be willing to stand for that either, yet the Chinese may achieve their goal before the America
    • "and... velcro ... trace their way back to the Space Race of the 1960s."

      Velcro was patented in 1955.
      The Invention of VELCRO (R) - George de Mestral [about.com]

      "two taikonauts wondering whether to take down the American flag still found at the Sea of Tranquility"

      The SoT flag was placed too close to the lunar module and according to Buzz Aldrin was blasted over on their departure. The other 5 flags were placed farther away from the LM and are almost certainly still upright though.
      Group Wants to Protect Ap [space.com]
  • I mean if American parts and Russian parts are all made in Taiwan, where are Chinese parts made?

    P.S. It's a movie reference for those of you who don't get it.
  • First, congratulations to China, and best wishes to Yang Liwei for a safe landing!

    tuxlove writes:

    Perhaps this will kick the US space program back into gear?

    Maybe. While the shuttles are likely down for yet another year [yahoo.com], coincidentally enough the House Science committee is meeting this Thursday to discuss The Future of Human Spaceflight [house.gov]. And, apparently at the request of the White House, the National Space Society [nss.org] has just realized a short position paper [nsschapters.org] on next steps for human space exploration. NSS

  • by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:39PM (#7215869)
    A rocket? Capsule? Training? What a waste of money.

    Think about it. According to the CIA Factbook [cia.gov] China has about 1,286,975,468 people. Figure the average person is 5' tall and you've got 1,218,726 miles worth of people. The moon at apogee is about 251,655 miles away, so they've got enough people to build a ladder to the moon with a nice stable base, even figuring in the inevitable attrition. Hell, take a look at the prototype [spray.se]. Just start passing up building supplies and poof! Instant colony!
  • This comes at a time when private American companies are gearing up their attempts at creating viable and cheap methods at putting men in space.

    Sure, it isn't orbit, but how far off could orbit be if Armadillo Aero and Rutan are successful at the stage they are at now?

    I know that it is a huge leap from going to where the X Prize competitors are going and orbit, but the point that I am trying to underline is that fact that we have privately funded companies making what looks to be viable attempts (except f
  • I may be in the minority but I consider this bad news.

    Up until now the only countries with serious 'access' to space have been the US and Russia and, for all their faults, I don't fear those countries. In some ways I trust them, and in other ways I trust them to fear the other and the rest of the world. Either way, I think they'll behave themselves.

    China? I'm not so sure.

    This is just my opinion, of course, and I won't even attempt to back it up with any hard evidence because I know next-to-nothing on the
  • I hate the term "taikonaut". You know what? Without proper pronunciation (as most westerners do), taiko can mean leper. (And thus becomes a pun). Better use "yuhangyuan" instead.

    • Without proper pronunciation (as most westerners do), taiko can mean leper. (And thus becomes a pun). Better use "yuhangyuan" instead.

      Oh, that's much better. Because, as a westerner, I'm soooooo likely to pronounce "yuhangyuan" properly.

      Incidently, if "taiko" can sound like leper, what happens when I inevitably screw "yuhangyuan" up? Thanks.
  • If the Chinese can launch a manned space vehicle into orbit, this means that they can drop an ICMB into the middle of downtown LA or NYC.

    What happens when and if in the future China's human rights record becomes so abysmal(not far from where it is now) that we revoke MFN trading status? Will they use this new tactical capability to "persuede" us to do more business with them?

  • Are nations eligible for the X prize?

    Seems like they'd have the resources if nothing else (Goooooo Carmack!)
  • Anyone know where to get some real time telemetry on Shenzhou? Is it passing overhead tonight?
  • As a result, China has become only the third nation on Earth capable of independently launching its citizens into orbit.

    I, for one, hit low earth orbit just about every time I witness the latest criminally inept shenanigans coming out of the White House.
  • Wow, the dream of manned exploration moves one step closer to reality. China has everything to gain with its ambitious space plans and seems to be the only government serious about building a permanent moonbase.

    This is cause for celebration. Its especially uplifting after the US has spent the last couple of years at war and the US's loss of its own spacefleet. Not to mention there are no ambitious projects anymore. Spacefaring has been distilled to the tight economics of launching commercial satellites
  • To all those who are a) jealous, b) pissed off, c) think they are a bunch of 60's wannabees

    Have a look at what they are saying - they have a forward plan. For exploration and exploitation of space resources - LEO, space station, then the moon, then beyond. Long term yes. But so was Von Braun's plan - the Saturn V was designed to put big loads into LEO and then launch lunar/whatever missions from there. It is still a good plan.

    Is this the first step - no. One of the articles (spaceref I think) says th
  • Ancient Chinese Secret huh?
  • Minutes after the launch, a CCTV announcer said that Shenzhou 5 and Yang had "entered orbit at 9:10." Xinhua said Yang was "reading a flight manual in the capsule of the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft and looked composed and at ease."

    I think I would have been prepared a little more in advance. I mean, what if some flunky forgot to include the last chapter -- "Re-entry and Landing" in the book?

  • I hate to disagree with my fellow slashaddicts, but I see this as a terrible thing.

    China, being an oppressive communist country is NOT doing this for the good of the chinese people, they're doing it for the military benefits.

    While it's a nice technological achievement (spurred by secrets leaked during clinton's admin) It will not be prove to be something we'll like, we're talking China with Spy Satellites, GPS-like capabilities, and other military capabilities I am not allowed to talk of.
  • Hi, no one wants to go to Mars more than I do, but has anyone noticed that our (if you're in the U.S.) Dear Leader wants us to spend $87 billion on Iraq?

    Guess what: if there is a space race, I don't think we'll be involved. Whether we like it or not :(
  • I noticed this in today's New York Time's article [nytimes.com] (2nd page) about China's preparations for space flight:

    The Chinese named their spacecraft Shenzhou or Divine Vessel. Weighing more than 8 tons and almost 30 feet long, it was slightly larger and heavier than the Soyuz. The main difference is the forward unit, which on the Shenzhou has solar panels and can remain in orbit after the piloted module descends back to Earth.

    How many uses are there for these modules, these little electric generators in space? I
  • Aparrantly some Chinese naval captain called Shen Zhongchang commented "The mastery of outer space will be a requisite for military victory, with outer space becoming the new commanding heights for combat."

    What military victory does he have in mind exactly? I wish more corporations were interested in outer space. At least they're only after money.
  • Congrats (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WasteOfAmmo ( 526018 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @11:45PM (#7216247) Journal
    Instead of the usual attempt at humor (which usually fails miserably) this /. reader has one thing to say...

    *Way to go China*

    Kudos to all of the people involved.

    Heres hoping for a safe and uneventful journey.


  • by demonbug ( 309515 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @01:09AM (#7216585) Journal
    Anyone have any insight into why the Chinese would build their space base in the Gobi Desert, which I believe is in the northern part of the country? Wouldn't it make more sense to stick it on the Tibetan Plateau or somewhere nearer the equator? IIRC, this is why the U.S. space program launches from southern Florida and why I believe most of the Soviet launch sites are in Kazakhtstan (aren't they?)? Just seems like it would make more sense to launch from the southwestern part of the country, where there are still very few people but you get boosts from being nearer the equator and being higher in elevation (you know, less distance to go and weaker gravity at launch, not to mention less air resistance (Hmm, speaking of which, maybe the U.S. should start launching from Mauna Kea instead of Florida - we could make a "space sea-plane" so it would be able to land back in Hawaii)). Just seems that the Gobi Desert, which I assume was chosen more for remoteness than anything else, wouldn't have been the best spot for them to stick their space program (but I guess if they have a launch failure it will impact Mongolia, not China, so maybe thats why).

    • Expanding some on my earlier answer...

      The US launches from the Cape not to gain the equitorial boost (which is nice, but not terribly important), but because of geography. There are numerous launch angles from there that are far enough out to sea as not to endanger inhabited islands, but close enough to those islands for telemetry and radar stations to be put there. This was *very* important in the early days.

      Russia's manned launch center is placed where the capsules final descent is over Russian territ
  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @04:02AM (#7217265) Journal
    I wrote in the article yesterday on the amazing amount racist xenophobia posted here whenever some other nation achieves something new in a scientific or technological field.

    I am simply flabbergasted. Instead of congratulating the Chinese for a well planned, robust and cheap human space effort, which it is, there are literaly hundreds of hateful, ignorant, racist posts filled to the brim with spite and jealously. And I think it's a real problem with a lot of Americans because it happens so consistently. You want to know why so much of the world has a poor opinion of the USA? Read slashdot, where the supposedly technophile elite make comments based on a lack of knowledge, a sense of low self esteem and jealousy.

    In my opinion, if there is anything that will be the undoing of the USA, it is those attitudes, because jealousy never won a space race. There's an old saying that basing one's actions on jealousy or envy is a guarantee of failure.

    You want my real opinion? No, you don't but here it is anyway.

    The China of today is, if anything, a fascist market state. The ignorance displayed here on Chinese (well, on any non US) poiltics is symbolic of a nation stearing blindly to its own future. The nominally Communist party has very little in common with collectivisation or any other tenets of Marx or Mao's preachings.

    The Chinese have achieved a human launch in space with a well paced programme that has taken it's time and not rushed things, which is why this has gone so smoothly. It has done this with a budget that is less than 1/7th of NASA's. And before you start yet another round of 30 year old technology trolling, may I point out to you that the computing power in the Chinese rocketry is at least 20 years newer than that in the Space Shuttle.

    NASA would be well advised to take a lesson from the simplicity and pacing of the Chinese programme.
    • by Caid Raspa ( 304283 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @08:08AM (#7217966)
      If the Chinese use 1/7th of NASA:s budget, I think it is expensive. I haven't heard of any big Chinese Space achievements before this. (They have their military satellites, but so has the USA, and no-one knows exactly of these.) NASA has Science missions like Hubble and Chandra. Deep Space Network to operate planetary probes like Cassini and the Mars missions. GPS. Manned spaceflight program was operating several space shuttles and building the space station. And of course past missions to be proud of (Apollo, Viking, Pioneer, Voyager, Skylab, and so on and so forth.)

      The China of today is, if anything, a fascist market state. The ignorance displayed here on Chinese (well, on any non US) poiltics is symbolic of a nation stearing blindly to its own future. The nominally Communist party has very little in common with collectivisation or any other tenets of Marx or Mao's preachings.

      Sorry for going off-topic. Honestly speaking, I see very little difference between practical applications of Fascism (3rd Reich, Mussolini's Italy) and Communism (Soviet Union, China). The rhetoric is different, but the practical effects are similar: a totalitarian state. Minorities (Jews or Tibetans or whatever) are persecuted, no criticism of the government is allowed, censorship and corruption are part of everyday life, military has a very important role in politics, ... the rant goes on and on.

      A political decision ("put more money in a space program") is made in an entirely different environment in the USA. When the small, monolithic elite decides something in China, everyone has to shut up, expect when they are told to cheer. In USA, congress, elections, mass media and all the NGO:s influence the politics. Threefolding the Space Program spending for a decade is so much easier when you have no checks or balances.

  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @04:16AM (#7217303) Journal
    There have been many posts here about the Chinese basing their capsule design on the Russian Soyuz design from the 60's and how this supposedly makes the Chinese effort worthless. Think about this.

    The whole entire complete US space programme was based on German technology and ideas from WWII taken from Germany and transplanted into the US along with the German rocket team people under Werner von Braun. Even the idea of a space plane was based on a German WWII idea called the "Saenger Amerikabomber" which was an idea to develop a manned spcae plane that would be able to reach the continental United States and drop a bomb before completing one sub orbit by skippping off the atmosphere and then returning to Germany.
  • by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @06:59AM (#7217713) Journal
    At 5:58 EDT, Shenzhou 5 will be visible over Boston
    At 11:28 GMT, it'll be visible over Chicago.
    Last chance at 5:59 PDT to see it over the West Coast.

    Orbit details at space weather. [spaceweather.com]

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