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Space Moon

China Sets Sights on Comprehensive Lunar Survey 122

eldavojohn writes "Perhaps unsatisfied with the closeups that Google Moon has to offer, China has decided to survey the moon down to the 'inch'. In the second half of 2007, they plan to launch an unmanned lunar satellite to first orbit the moon, land on the moon & then return samples to earth for them to analyze. '"The moon probe project is the third milestone in China's space technology after satellite and manned spacecraft projects, and a first step for us in exploring deep space," the China National Space Administration head said. The orbiter represented the first phase, with a moon rover to be used in the second phase scheduled for around 2012, reports said. The plan for the third phase, scheduled for around 2017, was for another rover to land on the lunar surface and collect samples before returning to Earth.'"
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China Sets Sights on Comprehensive Lunar Survey

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  • mars (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bombula ( 670389 )
    Anyone want to start laying bets on who lands a person on Mars first? It's looking more and more like the Chinese if you ask me.
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by tgatliff ( 311583 )
      Considering the current track record of NASA, you can bet on it.
      • The track records of the two governments matters more: theirs is getting more respectful of its citizens, ours is getting more totalitarian. They seem to be prepared to pass each other going in opposite directions.
        But that is still a long ways off, so I'm betting on the US getting there first.
      • Actually NASA is just outsourcing it to China.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yeah, lets see:
        1. One of the two original space superpowers
        2. The only space superpower left with a budget larger than that of all other space programs combined
        3. Placed first man on the Moon
        4. Was second in putting satellites and men up
        5. First to flyby Mars
        6. First to successfully land a craft on Mars that lasted longer than 80 seconds
        7. Current has a fleet of spacecraft operating from Mars
        8. First and only to explore Outer Solar System (with the exception of other organizations that joined in on
        • by Hucko ( 998827 )

          But they have the physics of how those were done, with USAians providing proofs that the models work well enough to be used for more advanced maneuvers.

          I don't check my dingy works with every type of maneuver every time I launch it; I just run through the basic safety check list to make sure it works with in the expected bounds. The motor on the other hand, I make sure it is running before I leave.

          My point is, sure sometimes the wheels have to be re-invented, but the Chinese engineers will probably do al

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Frosty Piss ( 770223 )

      Anyone want to start laying bets on who lands a person on Mars first? It's looking more and more like the Chinese if you ask me.

      Good for them. We have no practical need to land humans on Mars. The bottom line is that it serves no real scientific purpose that can not be achieved better and cheaper with machines.

      • Good for them. We have no practical need to land humans on Mars. The bottom line is that it serves no real scientific purpose that can not be achieved better and cheaper with machines.

        Everybody says that but a the reason would be monetary. It's much easy to get a antionalistic government to bank role "get a man to mars to prove we're better then them" then "send 400 probes to mars for scientific reasons". So while it's mroe efficient to send 400 unmanned missions it's easier to get bankrol from attempting t
      • by Bombula ( 670389 )
        The bottom line is that it serves no real scientific purpose that can not be achieved better and cheaper with machines.

        I hear this line of argument a lot, and I'm no expert so I don't make any claims one way or the other, but looking from examples here on Earth, why do we send scientists to Antarctica, say, or deep into deserts and jungles and other remote and inaccessible places? Obviously it's not as expensive to send people, but still - can't a scientist still do better work in person than a robot on

      • by Anonymous Coward

        We have no practical need to land humans on Mars.

        There's an immensely practical need. You are just being short-sighted.

        The Earth is a single point of failure for humanity and, for all we know, sapient life. There are realistic potential failures that have a non-zero likelihood in the immediate future, get more likely as time goes by, and we have no chance of predicting or stopping them.

        As such, assuming that you value the existence of humanity or sapient life, it is prudent to make at least some

      • by div_2n ( 525075 )
        Moving beyond our planet is absolutely required for the survival of our species. Whether we get hit with a gargantuan comet or asteroid in the next 50 years or the planet gets swallowed up in a few billion years when the sun goes red giant, we are absolutely guaranteed that any and all life on earth will be destroyed at some point. It's just a matter of when. Personally, I'd prefer to start establishing self sustaining colonies on other planets and beyond ASAP.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You have no practical need to post on Slashdot. Get back to work!
      • Man, when the Chinese land on Mars, or the Europeans, with their Aurora programme, that nation is the one with big bragging rights cojones for much of this century. You have NO idea how much Apollo earned for the US in terms of respect, and thereby also economic terms. If the Europeans/Russians/Chinese/vanuatu get there first, they will be looked up to by just about everyone else, including the US (although there will be a lot of teeth gnashing and sour grapes since the US is if anything, a terrible loser)
    • Re:mars (Score:4, Insightful)

      by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:32PM (#20186209)

      I'm going to guess Elon Musk (of SpaceX). They have yet to make orbit, but test flight #2 was very, very close -- and it's obvious they know what to fix. They already have a heavier launcher and manned capsule well under way, with NASA contracts to demonstrate ISS flights.

      A reporter once asked Elon whether he was creating SpaceX just so he could get a ride to orbit. He answered that if that was all he wanted, a ride on a Russian rocket would be cheaper. What the reporter didn't ask was whether he was trying to get a ride to Mars -- and creating SpaceX is probably the cheapest way to do that.

      • No one company is going to do this. It will be a multi-company missions. I think that china COULD be the first, but I am guessing that by 2025, the west will send a mission to mars. In fact, I think that by 2015, spacex/bigelow/(armadillo|blue origins) will be on the moon
      • by FleaPlus ( 6935 )

        I'm going to guess Elon Musk (of SpaceX). They have yet to make orbit, but test flight #2 was very, very close -- and it's obvious they know what to fix. They already have a heavier launcher and manned capsule well under way, with NASA contracts to demonstrate ISS flights.

        I'm guessing it'll probably be SpaceX in a collaboration with Bigelow Aerospace [wikipedia.org]. I could envision them using a SpaceX launch vehicle and Dragon capsule to get a crew up to orbit, where a Bigelow habitat module in a cycling orbit between the Earth and Mars would be waiting for them. Once the transit habitat arrived at Mars, they could land near an already-emplaced Bigelow ground habitat. Bigelow is already working on ways to get their self-expanding habitats to burrow into the ground and use the dirt as ins

        • they will probably combine that with armadillo or new shepard. Even though they are being suppose to take off from earth, they will really shine on the moon. In particular, if they can turn it into a means to lower or pickup a device, they would really win out. But yeah, I think that the 3 or 4 companies will be colonizing the poles within 8 years.
          • by FleaPlus ( 6935 )
            > they will probably combine that with armadillo or new shepard.

            Quite possible. Now that I think about it, a VTOL approach like Armadillo's or New Shephard's would be ideal for a Mars lander which could also be used to relaunch crew. It's too bad neither company has done anything with methane propulsion, which they'd probably want to take advantage of in-situ resources on Mars. Perhaps they'd license tech from XCOR?
            • I do not recall, but I thought that one of them was working with XCOR. If so, XCOR will probably make it easy to swap engines (at least I hope so). But as to rocket design, it would be good if either have a system where it can ring the payload similar to the recently launched mars polar lander. If they do that, then the rocket can lower the payload and then head back to space. All in all, I would guess that armadillo or new shepard would end up being simple trucks from orbit to surface and back.

              The one par
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by andrewd18 ( 989408 )
      As long as they don't try to land on Europa, I think we'll be all right.
    • Oh, the US will land on Mars first. But the Chinese will land 100 cheap copies of our landing immediately thereafter! :)
  • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) * on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:12PM (#20184927) Homepage Journal

    I'm not jealous. Unlike the U.S., which I honestly believe is no longer capable of carrying out a project like this (hell, we can barely keep our 26-year-old space shuttle program afloat), I hope China has a real shot at making headway in the exploration of space.

    Just because we can't do it doesn't mean that I hope it won't be done. If they can make progress where we can't, all the better!

    • well said - makes Joss Whedon look a little smarter too.
    • by PhreakOfTime ( 588141 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:20PM (#20185069) Homepage

      Funny how all empires fall.

      How did the US get to be such a disgrace? [youtube.com]

      Oh. Thats how

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by stoolpigeon ( 454276 )
        you could find people that ignorant in any population of decent size.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evil agent ( 918566 )

      I hope they do too. And hopefully it starts another space race [wikipedia.org] and technological escalation [wikipedia.org].

      It's great that the Americans and Russians are working together now, but we won't make the kind of progress we made when we were in competition with each other.

    • LRO (Score:5, Informative)

      by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:43PM (#20185459) Journal
      Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter [nasa.gov] launches in 2008. And NASA's mapped the moon before. Like Clementine [nasa.gov] (SDI/NASA).
      • Heh, I automatically read that as Lunar Rights Online

        --
        Why, let's just say I do the dirty work for the other side, no matter what side you're on
      • Chandra (Score:3, Informative)

        by WindBourne ( 631190 )
        Do not forget that India is launching a mission shortly which includes a couple of our instruments to be able to map into dark areas as well as underground.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by meringuoid ( 568297 )
      the U.S., which I honestly believe is no longer capable of carrying out a project like this

      The project is to survey from orbit, and to explore with rovers on the ground, the Moon. The US is doing the very same right now - except on Mars.

      The only component of the project the US has not already performed is the robot sample return. NASA have never bothered with robots returning tiny samples; they seem to rub along somehow with the six massive shovel-loads of Moon rock brought back by Apollo.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by crotherm ( 160925 )

      I'm not jealous. Unlike the U.S., which I honestly believe is no longer capable of carrying out a project like this (hell, we can barely keep our 26-year-old space shuttle program afloat),

      How many large engineering projects have you been part of lately? None? The companies that build Apollo could do it again. Of that I am positive. All it needs is money.

      I hope China has a real shot at making headway in the exploration of space.

      sure, why not.

      Just because we can't do it

      Just because you can't do it.

    • China has flown into space twice in 4 years. They won't launch another manned mission until 2008. All with Soyuz technology they bought from the Russians.Indeed, China's program seems moribund.

      If you want to take note of a vigorous non-US Japan lunar program, look at Japan. They are already is already beating China to the moon with the very advanced Selene [nasa.gov] mission. I think Japan will be Asia's space success story. Why so downbeat on NASA's moon plans? The ISS commitments are being kept. The shuttle assemb

      • Well, I can't speak for the parent poster, but China does have one (and only one) advantage over the US. They can tolerate human causalities. We lost seven astronauts and didn't fly a shuttle mission for years, but I suspect the Chinese would not have halted flights. They'd just say that the dead astronauts were heroes and keep doing what they'd been doing.

        Of course, it's hard to imagine that we'd not beat the Chinese to the moon anyway, as long as the funding remains intact. Even if funding is cut, it'
  • they need it mapped at that scale for when they miniaturize themselves and swing by on their way to mars.
  • Of course, he'll probably just invent a new fantasy where China collaborates with NASA to continue a hoax.

    -jcr

  • Thank goodness... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Arathon ( 1002016 )
    Here I was worried that China was about to wake up and discover their industrial and technological might, and crush the U.S. like a bug. It turns out they woke up alright, but instead decided to test their prowess by engaging in a multi-trillion dollar moon-ography bee.
  • Land claim (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:17PM (#20184999) Homepage Journal
    So is anyone going to make a stink when China claims the Moon for themselves?

    I know there is a treaty prohibiting this, though I don't know if China is signatory, and I don't know if they care, or if they'll find a way out of it.

    But it appears that the general way if the future is: China does what China wants.
    • Re:Land claim (Score:4, Insightful)

      by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:22PM (#20185097) Homepage Journal
      There's no need to 'claim' it. If any nation or group can get there, and owns the only facilities that support human life there - they don't need to claim it, they own it until someone else develops the same capability. That's the reality of it, treaties and such are nonsense in this regard.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dpilot ( 134227 )
        The question comes when the second party goes to land on the Moon, after China has established a secure foothold. What if, at any point during that other-nation mission, they make ANY sort of ownership-encumbered statement? It could be as simple as, "We grant you permission to land on the Moon at XXX location," presumably where the mission was landing, anyway. In fact, "granting exploratory permission" would be their best move, because in this case time would be on their side. Once "permission is grante
        • exactly - it should pretty much follow the same pattern as colonization of the new world. the potential for conflict will ramp up as the population and capability to get there ramps up. i think that is quite a bit off into the future. outside of my lifetime for sure (I've got another 60 years or so max - barring some major breakthrough in medicine).
        • by G-funk ( 22712 )
          Erm, you seem to be forgetting that China's valuable assets are on EARTH, where we keep the nuclear weapons - not the moon.
          • by dpilot ( 134227 )
            Right now China is looking for resources and prestige, wherever they can get them. There has been talk lately of Helium-3 laying around on the Moon - a suitable source of energy, which China has been particularly interested in. And if that doesn't pan out, there's still the prestige.
    • My history teacher mentioned this before. Basically the problem isn't just getting people to the moon or mars,etc. To "own" it or claim it as your property it basically boils down to the concept that in order for you claim land as your own you have to have the ability to protect it.

      Look at the history of Sealand, same concept.

      • But right now - just getting the people there is all that is necessary. Because until someone else can do it, being able to make the trip is all the protection that is needed.
        • Lots of countries have the ability to send a warhead to the moon. Its much easier to attack the moon right now than it is to defend it. Now, one might wonder why any country would want to attack an installation on the moon, its not like one base there prevents another from being founded, and if a country has the technology to build a base there, it doesn't need the strategic value the moon might offer.
          • I was under the impression that few countries are even capable of delivering payloads to orbit. Could you fill me in on just what systems make lots of countries capable of delivering munitions to the moon? As for anyone who positions themselves on the moon - well they sit at the top of a large gravity well. I think you might want to consider this a bit more.
            • Could you fill me in on just what systems make lots of countries capable of delivering munitions to the moon?

              A W88 warhead [wikipedia.org] masses something like 360kg. A Saturn V [astronautix.com] rocket was capable of sending 47,000kg to the Moon, or 118,000kg to Low Earth Orbit. Assuming linear scaling, to get a payload of 360kg to the Moon would require an LEO capacity of some 900kg. Such capacity is available to the US, Europe, Russia, China, India... basically, anyone who's remotely likely ever to want to nuke a target on the Moon is

              • I'm willing to bet - though I may be wrong - 2 or maybe 3 countries in all the world currently have the existing equipment to do it. I know the Russians and U.S. have sent stuff to the moon, in the past. As has been pointed out in this thread, NASA plans to deliver another payload to the moon next year. But I haven't seen anything to indicate that such capability currently exists elsewhere.

                But the primary point you make is correct, in that a colony starting out on the moon would be vulnerable for
          • Yeah, well, wouldn't it be good to blow up the Moon? I mean, we could end women's menstrual periods for good!
  • Inches? SI! (Score:2, Insightful)

    Don't the Chinese use centimeters like everyone else? ;-)
    • "The moon probe project is the third milestone... and first step"....

      "The orbiter represented the first phase..."

      OK, but what is the next stage??

    • by Dadoo ( 899435 )
      That's still a lot of square inches: 58,842,036,065,894,390. Where are they going to store it all?
      • That's still a lot of square inches: 58,842,036,065,894,390. Where are they going to store it all?

        Burn CDs, hand one out to everyone in the country, job done.

        • by Dadoo ( 899435 )
          Burn CDs, hand one out to everyone in the country, job done.

          Nice!

          But that only allows for around 15 bytes of information per square inch. Are you sure that's enough? You'd probably need 3 bytes for the elevation, 3 bytes for the color, and a few more for composition - and that's off the top of my head. There may be a lot more we don't know about. That's cutting it a little close, don't you think? :-)
  • Why would they do this? Unless they plan to hollow it out...
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Funny)

      by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:23PM (#20186059) Journal
      They're going to counterfeit it! It's China's first step. Take a bunch of pictures and measure every detail of the prototype.... Next thing you know, the "ghost shift" working night hours at the "legitimate by day" factory will begin production of cloned moons!
      • So what you're saying is, be on the lookout for the iMoon clones? Think they can build a moon that doesn't have a dark side? Then maybe I'd be interested.
      • I heard that the manned landing portion of the program will be called Allopo powered by Sotern A rockets, the landing craft called Egale Oen, and in a fit of innovation they'll be taking pictures will a cellular-based device called the iHpone.
    • by nido ( 102070 )

      Unless they plan to hollow it out...
      The moon already is hollow [unexplaine...teries.com]. Duh.

      Some more Moon Facts [geocities.com] for you. :)

  • In the last century, it was "The Russians are coming..." This should be changed to "The Chinese are coming...". My fellow Americans, just take note. I have come to realize that I cannot live without getting a fell of China in my daily life.

    Here's why: -

    1: All my electroic stuff save my monitor are Chinese made.

    2: On my way to work, I ride on Chinese made tires.

    3: My clothing is Chinese made...the same applies to

    4: Furniture

    5: Coffee maker

    6: and so many others. I am beginning to think that these Chin

    • Wow, it is almost as if you might read the news! [vivelecanada.ca] Fortunately for all of us our two economies are so intertwined that this amounts to mutual assured suicide. (Let us hope that MAS is much better than MAD.) The bad news is that some political leaders on both sides probably have no problems with slitting their own country's throat just for dogma's sake.
    • An interesting analogy... let's examine it... "The Russians are coming..." - But THEY NEVER CAME! We out spent them on defense, and bankrupted their economy. Their crumbling empire finally went toes up. Now you warn us that "The Chinese are coming..." Well, let's think about that too. I grew up at a time when Japan was the economic boogie man. Everything was made in Japan - their cars were better, all the electronics went there... And I got my MBA at the height of it all. We were preached to that if
      • but counting us out or predicting our demise has always been a losing proposition
         
        but it wont always be - it can't. so eventually they will get it right, it's just hard to tell when that will be. and it probably wont be for the reasons they think - not that it would stop people from saying 'see! we told you!' and so on.
        • by bitserf ( 756357 )
          Looking from the outside in, I'm sure the nations of Europe felt the same when the US was the nascent growing industrial power. Thing is, the US does not need to be #1 to do well. Europe is doing just fine. So will the US, when China/India become bigger superpowers.

          The only thing that will be "lost" is some sense of national pride. And then it will be the US, freed from the requirement to be #1, that will be competing and eating the Chinese/Indians for lunch. It's a cycle. And it's a numbers game. No matter
  • China plans to make cheap, high end [slashdot.org] moon knockoffs to sell to neighboring planets.
    • Yeah, but they're going to be contaminated with foreign substances, so they'll just be boycotted anyway.
  • I just hope it isn't bogged down in political red tape (pun not intended), and that this is a real science expedition, with the results freely shared among the scientist of the entire world.
  • I hope they've solved some of the problems getting lunar soil samples back. The Apollo program had some issues, and they never did get a sample back still sealed air-tight. http://www.mitchross.com/blog/index.php?itemid=35 [mitchross.com]
  • Obligatory (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bigattichouse ( 527527 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:45PM (#20185483) Homepage
    Obligatory Heinlein reference "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"
    To paraphrase: When you run out of room, there's always the moon.

    • so if they build a magnetic catapult will rocks count as weapons of mass destruction. i know it's just sparks - but they are big sparks.
      • Thats a funny reference, because the same book explains in great detail how to form a large terrorist organization organized by cells - and how to command and control those cells without giving away the leadership.
    • "Throw rocks at them." Of course, we need to set up the railgun catapult and create a sentient computer system (a HOLMES IV would do nicely) and then we can get rid of the Lunar Authority.
  • This is all well and good and I think China should be proud of their accomplishments in space. But the idea that the US is behind because we have concentrated on near earth orbit operations with the Shuttle and ISS programs is flawed at best. Remember that putting things like remote vehicles on the Moon is a far cry from what NASA and JPL have accomplished. We've landed PEOPLE on the moon, and plan to do that again before the next decade is out. We have put rovers on MARS - an order of magnitude more di
  • We should stay away from the moon. I don't even feel the need to elaborate on this.
    • by jdigriz ( 676802 )
      All these worlds are yours except Luna, attempt no landing there? Hogwash, we've already been!
  • It's interesting the difference in terminology between the summary and the actual article...

    According to the summary they have "decided to" and "plan on", according to the article they "would like to" and "hope too". That's a fairly significant difference. It's also in line with articles that have previously appeared - they sound much more like the bosses of the space agency and lunar science programs stumping for funding and support than they do like accounts of real programs.

    Actual hard
  • From TFA "A full moon is visible in this 2005 view above the Earth's horizon. China plans to survey all of the moon's surface before eventually bringing bits of the planet back to Earth."

    When did the moon become a planet...???

    Bart Sibrel and others: If China does map the moon will it show the American flag still flying proudly? If so will he shut up and apologize for his mistakes... I will not hold my breath...

    Mars: WTF does mapping the moon have to do with Mars? Lets try to stay on topic here.

    Bush sucks th
  • Good luck getting pics from the dark side of the moon...Our bases will blow it up in a millisecond.
  • I can see it now, rover competition will heat up on the moon. The rovers will be armed with frickin laser beams in case another rover gets to close, or if a rover is close to the end of it's mission it will go into seek and destroy mode. Then the rovers will become self aware and we'll all be in trouble.
  • Guys, the leaders of "The West" look ahead maybe five, ten years max. The Chinese are thinking ahead 100 years.

    They plan on mining Helium-3 from the lunar soil, for use in fusion reactions.

    Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3 [wikipedia.org] ... here's an interesting tidbit:

    -(snip)-

    It is believed that the Moon's surface has large amounts of helium-3 in the lunar regolith.[18] At the start of the 21st century several countries planned to explore the Moon and to use its resources. Helium-3 is expected to be
  • This isn't about US vs. China, it's about He3 mining.

    What the USA should really be doing is diverting some of its military trillions and making this into a global venture.

  • In Capitalist China you must listen to lecture about moon survey.
    In Soviet Russia no more Luna 16 museum exhibit for you.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luna_16 [wikipedia.org]

Let's organize this thing and take all the fun out of it.

Working...