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Space Science

China to Land on Moon Around 2017 293

smooth wombat writes "China has announced that it plans to land on the moon around the year 2017. They also plan to set up a moon-based astronomical telescope, measure the thickness of the moon's soil as well as the amount of helium-3 on the moon. Helium-3 is regarded by some researchers as the perfect non-polluting fuel source. China's first lunar orbiter could blast off as early as 2007, coinciding with its third manned space trip in which possibly three men would orbit Earth in Shenzhou VII and conduct a space walk."
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China to Land on Moon Around 2017

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  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Friday November 04, 2005 @07:44PM (#13954475) Homepage Journal

    "China has announced that it plans to land on the moon around the year 2017. ... China's first lunar orbiter could blast off as early as 2007..."

    10 years to landon the moon?!?!? How many cows do they have tied up to the booster housing?

    I could see 3 to 5 years, but this isn't exactly new rocket science [], is it? Is there some matter of the Russians and Americans not sharing with them, or are the Chinese just so proud they want to do it all themselves?

    The United States unveiled a $104 billion plan in September to return Americans to the moon by 2018.

    I fully don't understand that. NASA already knows how to do it. Why the foot dragging? They got to the Moon practically at Warp Speed compared to this mission. It's a sad day to learn all my Sci-Fi books [] will be further wrong on projections of lunar colonies, etc.

    China was designing a rocket that could carry a payload of 25 tons, up from a present limit of eight tons, the Beijing News reported this week, though it would unlikely be ready for another six-and-a-half years.

    Time to chuck the abacus and get some computers in those hands.

    They should land just in time for the 100th Starbucks opening.

  • Not He-3 again! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rorschach1 ( 174480 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @07:51PM (#13954514) Homepage
    Frankly, I think this is a really stupid argument for lunar exploration. Yeah, it might be a good fuel - IF we had fusion reactors that could use it! It's not like bringing back a truckload of this stuff is going to instantly solve our energy problems.

    Exactly how much better than the usual DT mix would this stuff have to be to make it worth the expense of getting it and bringing it back?

  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Friday November 04, 2005 @07:53PM (#13954532)
    They're taking the long view of becoming a super power.

    And leaving their enemies radiation free.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Friday November 04, 2005 @07:56PM (#13954549) Homepage Journal
    Watch the perjoratives, already. For a nation which is just barely emerging from third-world status, that is a very admirable feat.

    These aren't cavemen. Their economy is growing at a blistering rate and they're graduating plenty of engineers through domestic and foreign universities. They don't need to get a bunch of old V2 rockets and figure out how it's done.

    Moreover, the fact that "we already know how to do it" doesn't mean we don't have to design and build entirely new vehicles. After all, engineering and software are light-years ahead of where they were when we first landed on the moon; are you suggesting we take the old 16-bit Apollo computers out of mothballs and re-use them?

    Haven't you seen that these are exactly the plans NASA are considering? Going back to the Saturn V as a basis for all space missions. The Russians have it running so regular it's becoming a bus service for rich tourists. You don't advance one item of technology at a time, such as the old computers, but have all the bits worked on by various companies or universities or even at NASA. This isn't new stuff and much has been gleened from experience.

  • Re:Not He-3 again! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Krach42 ( 227798 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @07:57PM (#13954554) Homepage Journal
    I think they're mostly going there to see how much there is there, not to start trucking it back.

    First you have to know how abundantly you can get a fuel before you start using all of it. It'd be stupid to work on a fusion reactor that burns He-3 when it would just run out of fuel when we stopped being able to get ahold of the stuff...

    you know... like coal, and gasoline.
  • by Karma_fucker_sucker ( 898393 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @07:59PM (#13954571)
    They're taking the long view of becoming a super power.

    At first I was trying to get the joke. Then I realized, it's an incredibly brilliant insightful remark - joking or not. The Chinese have a much longer view than we Westerners. They are on their way to becoming a Superpower and they know it. What I'm concerned about is this and subsequent administration's (US) take on this. Hopefully this may mean a new interest in space exploration and NASA?

    If so: Whoo hooo!

  • by trevdak ( 797540 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @08:04PM (#13954607) Homepage
    I think that it would be logical for countries to establish bases within reasonably close proximity. There is too much that can go wrong for someone to risk establishing a 'loner' base.
  • by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @08:06PM (#13954628) Homepage Journal
    "Helium-3 is regarded by some researchers as the perfect non-polluting fuel source."

    We've had this discussion before. It takes MASSIVE amounts of raw material to harvest Helium-3, so much so that we're effectvely talking about strip-mining the moon. Me thinks that a LOT of people are going to be opposed to turning the face of the moon into one huge resource operation. Of course, you could try the darkside and mess it up to your heart's content, but that'll create huge logistics problems beyond just strip mining the moon.

    Sorry, but just don't see this as anything more than 'moon propaganda' on the part of whowever brings it, not just China. Of course, i tend to take their claims with a grain of salt anyway, but...
  • by carsamba ( 826051 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @08:07PM (#13954634) Homepage
    Since the days of US vs CCCP space race has passed and nobody seems to be interested in our very convenient stepping stone for some real exploration. We have become so much accustomed to satisfied with the warp drives and photon sails and whatever in the space opera shows we like so much, many people (perhaps excluding most /.ers) are overlooking the fact they are waiting to be invented and implemented. Since the Soviet Union is no more, the battlefield has shifted somewhere else, space exploration has served its temporary political purpose now the russkies are defeated (though it was very useful for technological advances as a side effect). We are living the days of land and resource grab (WMD anyone?), when nobody wishes to look ahead.
    China has been a world power for -let me see- all known history, and is chinese first and anything else a distant second. They are a pragmatic people, move with slow but sure steps. I certainly hope this move of theirs will have more real tangible benefit to humankind, and not just for political bravado.
  • Re:Not He-3 again! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @08:18PM (#13954705) Homepage
    The world as a whole is consuming energy at a rapidly accelerating pace. The reserves of non-renewable energy are quite well known, and they aren't going to last long (in terms of where we'll be in 2050-2100). There are many ways to reduce the dependency on oil (fuel cells, natural gas, hybrid cars, electric cars) but they all require energy. Apart from the ever elusive fusion reactor, there really aren't any exciting plans to generate more energy. The renewable sources are fairly well known (sun, wind, water, wave energy) and don't amount to much. Remember that we are using up the natural supplies accumulated over millions of years in a few short centuries. That will not be easily replaced.
  • Dude, do the math. If we stripped off the first mile deep of mass all the way around the moon, its volume would only be reduced by 0.28% or so. That's a lot of mass, and not much of an effect.
  • by belg4mit ( 152620 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @08:25PM (#13954756) Homepage
    Yeah! We wouldn't want to scar it's face with craters or anything.
    Look, I'm greener than most but unless there's life on luna, I have
    no problem mining it for He3. Of course, lunar based PV would be a
    better power system.
  • by Liam Slider ( 908600 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @09:25PM (#13955133)
    Yes, it takes massive amounts of raw materials to get Helium-3. Luckily we don't actually need much Helium-3 (in theory). The overall mining operations will be small compared to a great number of Earth based mining operations. Even on the side facing wouldn't be able to see mine pits from Earth.
  • Re:Vapor hardware (Score:3, Insightful)

    by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @09:25PM (#13955134) Journal
    "It is not at all feasible. Each craft would have meet basic mission requirements and be autonomous and storable in orbit or lunar orbit for months. A tall order for a country that has never docked spacecraft or developed high energy stages.. Then it would all have to come together perfectly at the time of the mission. Not likely."

    You could have said the same about the United States when Kennedy said we would land a man on the moon before the end of the decade back in 1961. We had a nine year deadline (well eight-and-a-half, I suppose). The Chinese have set themselves a 12 year deadline. I'm sure that, with those extra few years, they can figure out how to build a better lunar lander than what we built in 1969.
  • by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @09:43PM (#13955216)
    I would think that, when the time comes, when there are enough people, then it would be those folks living on the Moon who would want to create their government. And they're not likely to be asking us for any advice.
  • by mikapc ( 664262 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @09:50PM (#13955237)
    China has not been a world power for all known history and you only need to look at the 19th and early 20th century to see they were dominated by Europeans states like the UK. Furthermore the point should be made that the China nation that existed 2000 years ago is different enough from the modern state we call China, that they should be regarded as separate entities. The same could be said for other nations that claim a western civilization heritage with the ancient greeks. While it's true Britain and the United states existence has been strongly influenced by the ancient hellenistic greeks there certainly are plenty of differences including time, place, other customs that clearly differentiate them from one another. All I'm saying in a nutshell is that the modern, industrialized world we live today is so different then that of the ancient or medieval world, that the modern Chinese have more in common with modern Europeans and Americans, then they do with their 2000 year old ancestors. Also whatever you want to say about China's greatness, the fact of the matter is the Europeans were the ones who eventually brought about the industrial revolution and the modern world we live in today. Who knows, it's quite possible China may take the lead in 21st century in furthering the progress of civilization another step but only after it has embraced the modern world that western civilization has created (Which it is doing by the way, including it's current capitalistic reforms). The fact is all civilizations borrow and steal great ideas from one another and China is no exception. So get rid of your foolish nationalistic pride that everything that is good was derived from Chinese civilization. The world is becoming more globalized and internationl to the point where it's often not possible to associate a technological achievement with a country.
  • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:16PM (#13955626)
    Actually al-quada seems to be doing that very well. They simply make some threats and the US spends tons of money trying to secure things. Whether it's the superbowl or the new years at times square all big events now cost several times more to secure then before. I don't see it ever ending either do you?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:38PM (#13955727)
    China has NEVER signed either the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 OR the updated Moon Treaty of 1979.

    And the US can always point to NAFTA as an example of "but we had our fingers crossed". The only way a treaty with the US is going to have any impact is if you wrap it around a brick.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05, 2005 @04:54AM (#13956663)
    Face it dude. The days of the West are almost over. Asia will take the lead. It's full of ambitious, intelligent hard working people who want a piece of global wealth, and they are going to get it. Retards like you are clearly unaware of this. Keep feeling superior sucker.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser