China lays out initial plans for moon landing 23 replies

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Commissar MercZ

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#1 6 years ago

China plans manned moon mission | Science | The Guardian

Nearly 40 years after the cold grey soil of the moon was last disturbed by bounding humans, the lunar surface has become an official destination once more.

Tentative plans to land a man on the moon have been outlined in a document published by the Chinese government that confirms the nation's intention to become a major spacefaring nation. Officials in China have spoken before of their hopes for a crewed lunar mission, but the government document is the first to state the aim as a formal goal for the nation's space agency.

Details of the plan – which would see a human walk on the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 in December 1972 – were published in a white paper that serves as a roadmap for the next five years of Chinese space exploration.

It says China will "push forward human spaceflight projects and make new technological breakthroughs, creating a foundation for future human spaceflight", and describes preparations for orbiting laboratories, space stations and studies that underpin "the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing".

"Chinese people are the same as people around the world. When looking up at the starry sky, we are full of longing and yearning for the vast universe," Zhang Wei, an official with China's National Space Administration, told the Financial Times. Chinese officials have not announced a firm timetable, but the mission could take place around 2025, the chief scientist of the space programme, Ye Peijian, said last year.

China's ambitions in space contrast with an uncomfortable hiatus for the US space agency, Nasa, which lost its ability to send astronauts into space with the retirement of the space shuttle in July.

Under proposals adopted by the Obama administration, US astronauts must now hitch lifts into space aboard Russian Soyuz rockets until private US space companies can take on the job. The strategy aims to leave Nasa free to focus on a new rocket to take astronauts beyond Earth orbit, with a mission to an asteroid on the agenda.

China's rise as a spacefaring nation owes much to a steady programme of investment and development that dates back to the 1950s. While the US and Russia are decades ahead in terms of technology and expertise, both nations' space programmes have suffered from changing priorities of successive governments.

"Assuming the Chinese are serious, which recent history suggests they are, then I believe the impact could be game-changing," said Professor Ken Pounds, a leading figure in UK space research at Leicester University.

"Modern communications will allow the experience of operating on the lunar surface to be delivered into the classroom and living room, with enormous socio-political impact around the world."

Pounds added that the scientific – and commercial – potential of a serious programme of lunar research was likely to be substantial, and go far beyond what was achieved with Apollo.

Another consequence of a Chinese moonshot might be to reinvigorate Nasa's vision of human space exploration.

"It is very unlikely the US would not respond," said Pounds. "That could breathe new life into their space exploration programme, which is currently going nowhere."

In 2003 China became only the third country to send one of its citizens into space independently. Yang Liwei's mission aboard Shenzhou 5 was followed by another substantial milestone when Zhai Zhigang conducted the first Chinese spacewalk five years later.

China has mapped the moon from two orbiting spacecraft and has plans for an unmanned lander, a lunar rover, and a mission to return 2kg of moon rock to Earth by 2020. The space agency this year demonstrated in-orbit rendezvous and docking tests between two spacecraft, laying the foundations for the construction of a future space station.

The emergence of China as a spacefaring nation has the potential to threaten US prestige in space, by inspiring a new generation with headline-grabbing crewed missions.

The former chief administrator at Nasa, Michael Griffin, criticised the Obama administration's plans as an admission that the space agency would not be a major player in human missions into space for the foreseeable future.

Speaking before the Senate in 2007, Griffin said he admired China's achievements in space, but was concerned the country would "leave the United States in its wake".

I guess we'll see where this goes.




Embee

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#2 6 years ago
Commissar MercZ;5597205 I guess we'll see where this goes.

To the moon? :p




Flash525

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#3 6 years ago

Whilst it's good that there are other nations reaching out in to space, why the moon? We've been there, seen that (and there ain't a lot to see), even came back (in the same) t-shirt.

Wouldn't it be more... productive to aim a little higher? Mars or Venus?




Biiviz

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#4 6 years ago

Alakazam;5597271Whilst it's good that there are other nations reaching out in to space, why the moon? We've been there, seen that (and there ain't a lot to see), even came back (in the same) t-shirt.

Wouldn't it be more... productive to aim a little higher? Mars or Venus?

Perhaps they need to experiment with landing, etc.




Schofield VIP Member

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#5 6 years ago

Meanwhile, 43 years ago...




Commissar MercZ

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#6 6 years ago

With regards to why the moon landing is necessary from China's perspective:

The program is young. The PRC had not really committed energies to space travel beyond rocket tests. A formal organization only came around in 1993- so they've pretty much been following the same "milestones" since then. Deployment of satellites, first man in space, plans for space stations, and now to get one on the moon.

As to why they won't leapfrog over a moon landing into Mars- it's probably for the same reasons that Biiv said before. Testing their machines and such for future landings on a terrain that has been attempted before. Getting to Mars involves more than what they have been able to do- and more importantly produce as results for their populace.




Pethegreat VIP Member

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#7 6 years ago

Whilst it's good that there are other nations reaching out in to space, why the moon? We've been there, seen that (and there ain't a lot to see), even came back (in the same) t-shirt.

Wouldn't it be more... productive to aim a little higher? Mars or Venus?

The moon can be mined for helium 3 which can be used in fusion reactors. Some reading on Wikipedia says that we would need to process 4 million tons of lunar soil a week to supply enough He-3 for all the power generation on earth. Because of the lower gravity it will be cheaper to build and launch spacecraft from the moon than earth once facilities have been constructed.

The Chinese may quicken the pace and invest much more money into their space program. I could see the Chinese doing this and getting a man on the moon in 2020. It took the US only 8 years to go from putting a man in space to putting a man on the moon. If the Chinese quicken the pace I could see another space race starting up.




MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#8 6 years ago

I'm more curious who will get the prize for first private group to send a drone to the moon. Last I heard there are several teams working on it.




Guest

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#9 6 years ago

Cool, but also worrying. They got a lot of their stuff from Russia, and Russia cuts corners a lot. Go look up Russia's/Soviet's success/failure history. It's pretty horrific. I hope the Chinese don't use their stuff directly, but use it as reference and build their own systems from the ground up with proper funding and expertise.




Commissar MercZ

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#10 6 years ago
Obankobi;5597609Cool, but also worrying. They got a lot of their stuff from Russia, and Russia cuts corners a lot. Go look up Russia's/Soviet's success/failure history. It's pretty horrific. I hope the Chinese don't use their stuff directly, but use it as reference and build their own systems from the ground up with proper funding and expertise.

Space travel was pretty risky and disastrous at times for all those involved. I wouldn't say that the Soviets specifically suffered from this. Of course the later years of the space program was more a twilight than anything else, but I don't think it reflects on what China is doing at the moment.