China Shoots for the Moon

September 29th, 2008 | Sources: Economist, Washington Post

America hasn’t had landed a man on the moon in 36years and it has no immediate plans to return there. Meanwhile, China can now boast it has the moon in its sights.

This after three Chinese astronauts parachuted to Earth yesterday following an error-free mission which included China’s first spacewalk. Crowds gathered before outdoor TV monitors across China to cheer the spectacle.

China’s leaders are riding a wave of nationalism following the Olympics. There is no public opposition to their space program, and they face few of the budgetary constraints that have plagued NASA for decades.

China plans to construct a space station within 5-10 years and land an unmanned probe on the moon shortly after that. It is a matter of time before China announces plans to put a man on the moon.

China’s latest space success created less angst in the US than its last one, in which it blew up a failed weather satellite with an anti-satellite missile some 21 months ago. China’s space program is run by the military, but China insists its program is peaceful.

With many nations’ economies in tatters, those who are still inspired by human space exploration will be gazing up at red flags for the foreseeable future.


 

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