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China Space

China Completes Its First Manned Space Docking 130

This AP story, as carried by the Houston Chronicle, says that the Chinese Shenzhou 9 spacecraft (carrying a crew that includes the country's first female astronaut) has successfully docked with an orbiting module, a first for China's manned space program. However, manned mission or not, the actual docking was actually executed from below: as with previous docking maneuvers, "Monday's docking also was completed by remote control from a ground base in China. A manual docking, to carried out by one of the crew members, is scheduled for later in the mission. Two crew members plan to conduct medical tests and experiments inside the module, while the third will remain in the spacecraft."
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China Completes Its First Manned Space Docking

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  • by EdgePenguin ( 2646733 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @05:48AM (#40357569) Homepage

    Or, to put it another way, how little the Chinese are investing. The space program is clearly not viewed as a high economic priority in China. The period between their first manned flight and now is roughly the same as the period between the first US manned flight and first US lunar landing; and in that time period China has had an economy far in excess of that of the US in the 1960s. They have also had lower costs due to the fact that they don't have to develop all the technology from scratch. They could easily have done a repeat of Apollo on this time scale, but chose not to.

  • by Quick Reply ( 688867 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @06:39AM (#40357689) Journal

    Exactly what I was going to post.

    In all fairness, it probably has already been done by the Americans and Russians, whether as a secret experiment or a "side experiment" done by the scientists themselves.

    I mean, how many people would go all the way to space and not do it given the chance, it would be like doubling what is already the most amazing experience of your life.

    I hope an adult entertainment company buys a couple of tickets on a private space flight, for the enjoyment of the rest of us who will never get the chance but are curious to see.

  • Re:In Space... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 18, 2012 @06:46AM (#40357707)

    Hmm... Well...

    You mean "borrowed" in the sense like the USA did when using the techniques developed in Nazi Germany?

    And why should you develop something yourself when the knowledge is available? Most techniques used by the NASA are not especially top-secret as far as I know. So - why spend an big budget on something that's freely available?

    I think there is a good chance the first man on Mars will be Chinese. Not because they are that good, but because they slowly bit steadily keep pushing forward, while the USA is stepping down. Anyway by the time of those first manned mars landing, I estimate the biggest budget in the USA will be spend on thousands of lawyers fighting the (around that time completely out-of-control) software patent wars (inside the USA, because outside the USA people are not that stupid).

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @06:51AM (#40357725) Journal
    "They're starving back in China, so finish what you got." is a line from a John Lennon song, when I was a kid that's what mother's told their children when trying to persuade them to eat thier veggies. There were several famines due to Mao's "great leap" the worst of which was without doubt the worst in the 20th century (and perhaps of all time). I was too young to recall that one but I do recall the one in 1969 (the same year Armstrong set foot on the moon).

    It's said (by who I don't recall) that China has dragged more people out of poverty in the last 4 decades than the rest of the world combined by simply raising the standard of living for their own people. Having wittnessed (from afar) the scale of the change since the gang of four were booted out in the 70's, I'm inclined to believe that claim.

    Que paranoid rants about governments from 20-somethings with cheeto filled stomachs, in...3...2....1
  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Monday June 18, 2012 @07:40AM (#40357859) Homepage Journal

    People complain about the UK giving aid to India which has its own space programme while millions live in terrible poverty, but the simple fact is they need one. Modern technology requires satellites, advanced materials and cutting edge research. They need it to bring the economies up to western levels and lift everyone out of poverty at once, rather than fire fighting individual disasters.

    It does suck that money spent putting a man in orbit is money that can't be spent educating poor kids, but you have to look at it as the individual need vs. the greater good and having a mix of both.

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Monday June 18, 2012 @08:02AM (#40357955) Homepage Journal

    My largest complaint about the Chinese space program is the lack of operational tempo. Simply put, they aren't really in the habit of sending stuff into space and they are waiting too long between flights if they want to gain institutional knowledge about how to perform tasks in space. The last previous flight for Chinese astronauts was in 2008, although there was an "unmanned" spaceflight last year which acted as a dress rehearsal for this flight.

    All this said, I will admit that this is a significant accomplishment and something which speaks volumes about the technical accomplishments of China. The organizations which have been able to achieve this milestone are rather small, and for manned spaceflight is only NASA, Roscosmos, and now CNSA (Chinese National Space Agency), with just JAXA, ESA, and SpaceX as the only other organizations to perform this task using unmanned spacecraft.

    Still, all China has done so far is more or less replicate Gemini 8, avoiding the problems that nearly killed Neil Armstrong and David Scott. They have a long way to go if they want to turn this into any sort of useful experience to get them anywhere else, but they can start to have their astronauts do stuff more elaborate than simply being potty-trained monkeys who know how to wave flags. A huge difference between Gemini 8 and Shenzhou 9 is that Armstrong and Scott were actually piloting their spacecraft where instead the pilots of the Shenzhou spacecraft are sitting at mission control.

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Monday June 18, 2012 @08:14AM (#40357999) Homepage Journal

    I think the total size of the economy is more important in attempting to measure a country's ability to maintain a national space program. Otherwise some small but rich European or oil-producing country would have also launched humans into space a long time ago. The Soviet Union was clearly poorer than the US in per capita terms, but managed to beat the US to several early space milestones.

    I suppose that is where these crazy nerds [] come along and try to prove your notion could work all along. I'll admit their goal is more to duplicate Alan Shepard's flight rather than John Glenn's, but it is none the less showing that more countries and people are coming together and trying to get into space.

    Russia might get a little nervous if Denmark starts to attempt orbital spaceflight though. These guys are using a launch site in the Baltic Sea, and extra nerd points are earned because the "ground crew" for the launch site works out of a submarine on launch day.

  • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Monday June 18, 2012 @09:34AM (#40358537)

    "They're starving back in China, so finish what you got." is a line from a John Lennon song, when I was a kid that's what mother's told their children when trying to persuade them to eat thier veggies.

    Funny thing is that I saw an interview not long ago with a Chinese writer who said that when he was growing up in the 50's and 60's, the Chinese were told the same thing about the U.S. They were shown Depression-era footage of soup kitchen lines and told that was typical of life in the U.S. They would even encourage schoolchildren to give to charity to help out the starving Americans.

  • Re:In Space... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday June 18, 2012 @02:43PM (#40362105)

    So the same argument can be used for China then. They sent their kids over her to be educated and what do you know, they paid attention in class and the asian kid always got the good grades in Engineering and Physics and now they have their own universities and departments and can build their own stuff. They "bought" the technology too. Or is it just so easy to sneak into NASA and start copying everything verbatim? But wait, how would a spy in NASA explain the advances in Chinese heavy industry? Did the NASA spies also steal plans to build high speed railroads, like the ones in use all over the US? How about the Chinese semiconductor industry? Did they get that from NASA too? Or are you trying to say there are Chinese spies everywhere?

    Or maybe, just maybe, the Chinese aren't as dumb as you think they are by refusing to give them any credit. After all it's much easier to throw R&D dollars towards something you already know is possible especially when those R&D dollars go much further thanks to wage differences and (lack of) environmental laws. And when you have an economy the size of China's, growing at the rate which China's is, you have plenty of money to spend.

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