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Space Government Politics Science

Space Race Heats Up in Asia 86

SushiVSYamcha writes with a link to an article on the Seattle Times site, discussing the newly-heated Asian space race. Following Russia and the US into orbit are the nations of Japan and China, now struggling to one-up the other in a competition for scientific and national pride. The piece covers Japan's new initiative to catch up to the Chinese program, as well as some history of the competition "China launched its first manned space flight in 2003. A second mission in 2005 put two astronauts into orbit for a week, and a third manned launch is planned for next year. This year, China also plans to launch a probe that will orbit the moon. Earlier this month, the country launched a Long March 3-A rocket that sent a navigation satellite into orbit as part of its effort to build a global positioning system. The satellite is the fourth China has launched as part of the Compass navigation system, which is expected to be operational in 2008."
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Space Race Heats Up in Asia

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  • Funding for NASA? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    NASA has the capability NOW to send a manned mission to Mars. We have the necessary technology.

    Estimated Cost of a Manned Mission to Mars: $75b
    Cost of 1 year in Iraq (not including interest, long term costs): $100b

    If America wants to be taken seriously I highly recommend that they restore confidence in their own scientific programs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 )
      While I think that we should go to Mars, I would far rather leave that to the private enterprise. They will be there before 2025. They will most likely send the first ship on a 1 way mission for at least a decade.

      But as to the 100B, well, we could have added a number of nuke plants, increased our Alternative Energy, AND had none-polluting cars. Then we would not be funding those that want to kill us.
      • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @04:23PM (#18803577) Homepage Journal

        While I think that we should go to Mars, I would far rather leave that to the private enterprise. They will be there before 2025.

        As much as I wish you were correct, I think you're probably being overly optimistic. Private Enterprises (excluding the big NASA contractors) haven't even made it to orbit yet, and there are precious few signs that any of them will soon. Keep your eye on SpaceX, but don't buy a single one of their dates. I guarantee that each milestone will be missed by several years, mostly because of the difficulty of the business they're in. (It's just the way these things go, I'm afraid.)

        On the bright side, having the private sector nipping at NASA's heels is a great way to keep them motivated. ;-)
        • Oh, I don't know (Score:3, Insightful)

          by WindBourne ( 631190 )
          I think that spacex is a bit behind, but not terribly. The fact that they have done 2 shots and have gotten it most of the way on the 2'nd shot is pretty impressive. But I would rather see them do a third launch before attempting to send another payload. But I think that they will launch again BEFORE the end of the year. As it is, they have falcon 9 first stage built and ready to go. But the truth is that falcon 9 (even heavy) is not what will take us to Mars. We are going to need the BFR that they have alr
      • by khallow ( 566160 )
        I have to strongly disagree with you here. We still don't have cheap access to LEO. And a private mission to Mars needs that first as well as a host of technologies that have yet to be developed. My take is that it'll be a few decades after LEO costs drop substantially before we see private expeditions beyond the Earth-Moon system. Someone like SpaceX, as much as I like them, is not even remotely close. SpaceX hasn't yet successfully launched anything into orbit. They have maybe one or two chances left befo
        • Yeah, that is basically the same thing that batman is saying. But when it is pure NASA, it is an all or nothing based on politics. Now, we have multiple companies targeting cheap access. While I am a big fan of spacex, I think that even if the next rocket fails, it will not matter. The reason is that there is plenty of big money looking to jump into the game and invest in a company like spacex. In addition, Bigelow really needs them (at this moment), so will likely go with them even if they have another fai
    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      Last I checked the cost of a year in Iraq and Afghanistan is around $50 billion per year ignoring the substantial long term costs.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Or ... competition to make and test better ICBMs while masking it as peaceful research?

    If you can put it a precision polar orbit, you can also target New York !!!
    • by Paulrothrock ( 685079 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @03:21PM (#18802735) Homepage Journal

      China's too busy taking our money to want to nuke us.

      Now if we go bankrupt, then we'd have something to worry about.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by kabocox ( 199019 )
        China's too busy taking our money to want to nuke us.
        Now if we go bankrupt, then we'd have something to worry about.

        Nah, then they wouldn't have to bother nuking us. They could just buy us out/up.
      • Not exactly (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WindBourne ( 631190 )
        They are draining us of jobs and money. But that is because they have fiexed their money to ours rather than allowing it to float free. The amazing thing is that W. is now speaking up about piracy (mostly of software), which does NOTHING for us. If he really wants to fix things, then he would have pushed against the fixing of the monies. He is just offering up an election deal.
        • by jcnnghm ( 538570 )
          Bush should absolutely be speaking up about foreign nations stealing from American companies, regardless of if it is intellectual property, software, or hardware design. Why should foreign companies get a free ride? It raises the prices domestically in the long run, because it destroys competition.
        • You have misunderstood the money lock.

          The reason the US does not care is because we LIKE it when other countries lock their rates to ours. We get the real benefit, they screw themselves for short term stability.

          Look, what happens when China or someone else locks their money to us?

          Choice A (rarely true). Their economy is stronger than the foolish government thinks so their money, if it floated free would be higher. So this lets us buy their stuff at a cheaper rate, which encourages us to buy their stuf

        • Re:Not exactly (Score:5, Informative)

          by Gospodin ( 547743 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @06:26PM (#18805335)

          They are draining us of jobs and money. But that is because they have fixed their money to ours rather than allowing it to float free.

          These statements are contradictory - the only way they are making this "work" is by buying huge amounts of U.S. government debt (and other investments, but it's primarily T-bills). Which funnels money back into the U.S. Essentially they're loaning us the money to buy their goods. So they must think we're a good credit risk, at least.

          I would also be curious to know where these jobs are going. If the U.S. is being drained of jobs, how come our unemployment rate is decreasing?

          • by khallow ( 566160 )
            Retirement, prison, government jobs, getting educated, plenty of stuff to hide unemployment.
            • Retirement, prison, government jobs, getting educated, plenty of stuff to hide unemployment.

              Granted, but changes from year to year aren't very well explained by these things, and the unemployment rate has dropped consistently with increases in raw job numbers since 2001. You can argue lots of things about conditions in the U.S., but arguing that more Americans aren't working now than were working 5-6 years ago is just silly.

      • by catiger ( 927779 )
        why you have such moron-like thinking? do you really know a bit of history?

        China in the long river of history has NEVER been attacking/invading other countries. Instead US owns the most number of Nukes and numerous global arm forces and a long list of bad records of entering the soils of other countries...
        • Try telling that to the natives of Tibet which the Chinese have annexed, chucking out their rightful leader and installing a puppet in his place
          • by catiger ( 927779 )
            yeah. as this guy wanted to separte Tibet from the country, it WAS JUST VERY NECESSARY DOING SO. Putting US in the same situation, what would you be expected to do? 50 -> 50--?
            • What the fuck are you talking about? Tibet was a country, will an embassy in the US. Before the 50's, Tibet was never part of China. China had messianic visions for control of Asia, which is why proceeded to annex several states that had been independent for centuries(Xinjang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia...) and turning other nations in to puppet states(Mongolia). It then proceeded to declare war on India and Vietnam. China has stopped these activities, and now is a pretty good neighbor, but don't try and subvert
    • by jcgf ( 688310 )
      mod parent up. I don't trust anything done by the Chinese government. Beware the red dragon.
    • "Or ... competition to make and test better ICBMs while masking it as peaceful research?"
      Cmon, they have those for a long time by now. That is way easier then going to the moon and such. Also, in that case, nuclear subs may be more interesting.

      Sure, these things have plenty of militairy spin-off, and the Chinese government should not really be trusted too much. However we should avoid (any kind of) undue hostility, I do think the Chinese government tries to do what is best for the countries' people as much
  • by ShorePiper82 ( 1027534 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @03:20PM (#18802729)
    In a moment of amazing forethought: Asia (read as: Sony) launches the first 2,400 mile HD plasma TV into space (with all the best channels Direct TV has to offer). followed quickly by equal sized Google ad-satellites. I'm switching from cable.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by AtlasAxe ( 977318 )
      As long as I get the remote, I'm fine with that.
    • Or, what may be more feasible, Put a 1840km (should be about 5-7 of the sky depending on viewing position) wide billboard in Geosynchronous orbit that simply says "SONY" in lights bright enough to see from earth at night. Now THATs advertising.

      note - my math may be flawed. (42,164km orbital radius -> 132462.113km/360 = 368km per degree not taking into account altitude of the viewer)

  • by The Media Mechanic ( 1084283 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @03:28PM (#18802799)
    China already landed their 5th astronaut on the moon... Check out this Yahoo News Photo that was posted recently! It is conclusive evidence of China landing on the Moon!! 6423fab2ab1e8de16c8c2 []
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In historic terms, spending may be down since that great space race and cold war and all that, but it would be hard to say any government cares more about space than ours. The shuttle may have been a colossal waste, and the Hubble isn't worth giving up for the space station, but we have men in space, and we continue to put man in space.
    I'd even venture to say our Mars pipedreams are closer to reality than anything Asia is actually doing. Give them a couple of years to decades and maybe we can talk. And what
  • India (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jhan ( 542783 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @03:35PM (#18802905) Homepage
    Do not forget India [], although they seem to be falling behind.
    • More and more countries are jumping into the game. And in light of Spacex and Bigelow, we will shortly see just about every country shooting for the moon.
    • "Do not forget India, although they seem to be falling behind."

      They are having problems figureing out how to get Slurpees to work in Zero-G.
  • by coolmoose25 ( 1057210 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @03:57PM (#18803235)

    Both China and Japan have a LOT of catching up to do. China's space program is arguably at the Mercury/Gemini stage, although they have far less hours in space than either of those programs had. How many space walks have they done? How many docking maneuvers? How about a reusable space craft? It will be hard for either one to go to the moon soon, and so long as the US continues to fund the NASA at current levels, we will continue to outpace them. Our next ship is going to be more advanced than even the shuttle was, and will be capable of a Moon mission - perhaps even a Mars mission.

    What is far more interesting to think about is the parallels with early continental exploration... I mean, Columbus comes to America in 1492, and serious colonization takes much longer than that. Almost a hundred years goes by before even the start of real, multinational colonization of the New World... And the differences are interesting. One can argue that those explorers had an easier time of it because they didn't have to bring all of their food, water, and air with them. OTOH, they often met hostile natives along the way, and many colonies were wiped out before they could be self sufficient. No one seriously thinks we are going to meet hostiles along the way in space exploration, but the obstacles are formidable.

    At the end of the day, real colonization won't take place until there is a more compelling reason than just science to do it. Continental colonization didn't take hold until there were private companies of people doing it for profit. The same will likely prove true for space exploration.

    • Remember though, they have the added benefit of drawing off research from NASA and European space agencies. Breaking into a developed field is much different than pioneering it, and many of the problems during the mercury/gemini era have been not only solved, but have had solutions refined over the years since. I somehow find it unlikely that the solutions being used today are the same, in both method and materials, as those used in the 60s and 70s. Information showing otherwise would be appreciated if avai
    • by Mahler ( 171064 )
      I just hope that there won't be some alien race we have to crush to get there. Think about the intergalactic lawsuits and casino's at the end of the galaxy that will follow.
    • I mean, Columbus comes to America in 1492, and serious colonization takes much longer than that. Almost a hundred years goes by before even the start of real, multinational colonization of the New World...

      "Multinational" is a nice buzzword to exclude a great deal of history.

      The Spanish founded their fist city in the Americas in 1498. Havana was founded in 1515. The Spanish had colonized All non-Portuguese parts of South America by the mid 1500's. And the Portuguese had colonized Brazil by the early 150

  • Beavis: "China launched a 'probe'... heh heh."
  • Uh Oh (Score:3, Funny)

    by Laura_DilDio ( 874259 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @04:49PM (#18803987)

    This year, China also plans to launch a probe that will orbit the moon.

    It won't be long until there's conclusive evidence that the US has never put a man on the moon!
  • the newly-heated Asian space race

    Why, oh why couldn't that have been the newly-heated Asian spice race? Imagine curry going up against wasabi; new versions of kung pao chicken; the hotter the better.

  • by N3wsByt3 ( 758224 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @05:06PM (#18804223) Journal
    A frequently occurring debate I have is with the question whether or not we should have space-exploration (and as a subset: human vs. robotic space exploration). This involves the "we should spend the money on other things, like combating worldhunger"-arguments, as the more subtile arguments which is better: human or robotic exploration.

    I have pondered a long time about this, and this is my conclusion:

    We all heard the reasoning for abolishing space-exploration (particular human-based) before, and I think the major flaw in all these 'arguments' why we shouldn't go into space is that they always set economic factors as a premise.

    But, although economic viability is important to create a mass-usage of space(travel), I fail to see why it should be the only possible motive to start exploring space. It's a pretty narrow-minded, materialistic and typical capitalistic view on things. It's the same view that makes progress on medication for very rare diseases, or for diseases that are prevalent in continents that are poor, so slow: corporations can't see how they are ever going to get profit out of it, so they all turn their backs on it.

    If ppl (including states) are only going to do something when they are sure of an immediate profitable return, the world has become a sad place. (And we should leave it the sooner ;-)

    Arguments based on such a viewpoint fail to recognize other incentives apart from economical ones.

    And the reason why we shouldn't (only) rely on robots? You can explore, but you can not colonize with robots. The will to explore is deeply entrenched in the human race, but with a reason: it has survival advantages.

    A species that doesn't colonize new territory and adapt, will perish. I think it's paramount that humans always keep their spirit of adventure and keep exploring and expanding, because the moment we will go "ah, let's sit back in our sofa's and let our robots/droids do it", we're basically finished, even when not being aware of it at that moment.

    So, to to all the people saying we don't *need* space-exploration (human or otherwise); we don't *need* the pyramids neither, nor all those great buildings and artworks, nor any luxury, etc. The only thing we 'need' is food and shelter. Based on what we truly 'need' thus, we should go back living like cavemen. But of course, we don't, and the reason is that we, as humans, look beyond our immediate needs and have (and should have) grander visions.

    So, economics (and also the ratio of costs/science output) is often less good with human space-travel then robotic ones. Contrary to some zealots, I do not dispute that. But, as I have indicated, I do not think one should measure everything in terms of economic benefits. Even if you could send a hundred, or a thousand robots for the price of one human mission, it still would not change the fact that robots can't colonize planets, and augment the survival chances of the human race (and earths' ecology) through interplanetary spreading.
  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @05:09PM (#18804269) Journal
    The private sector is also looking quite interesting in the orbital spaceflight arena. I tried submitting the following story last week:

    Bigelow Announces $15 Million For Month in Space

    Robert Bigelow has announced [] a price of $15 million for a four-week trip to one of the private space stations Bigelow Aerospace [] will deploy, with a price of $3 million for an additional four weeks. This drastically undercuts the Russian Space Agency's $25 million price for a week or two on the ISS. Bigelow also stated that interested countries and companies could lease an entire in-orbit research facility for $88 million/year.
  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @06:45PM (#18805641)
    Count on it.

    India is planning on a Moon Mission [] and a Mars Mission [] and discussing Manned Space Flight [].
  • I wish the US were spending a $TRILLION owning the Moon we pioneered instead of wasting it and thousands of lives losing a war in Iraq to Iran.
    • Doh, there are little things that i would dislike more than the spending on those activities; to name some i wish they would spend a $TRILLION more on:
      -Spaggetti bridges, although oranges are ok too. (but those are hard)
      -Comparing apples and pears
      -Dancing monkeys
      -Non-dancing monkeys
      -Both dancing and non-dancing quantum monkeys
      -Velociraptor survival techniques
      -CowboyNeal hats
  • Reading this reminds me what a tragedy it is that rocketry and space got tangled with nuclear weapons at such an early stage. It cast a sinister hue over the whole space program.

    We'd probably be "out there" a whole lot more than we are now except for that piece of bad timing.
  • Never get into a space war in Asia?
  • don't you suppose solving the earth's problems first is a better idea than trying to suffocoate our planet with CO2 and global warming and then trying to run off to the nearest rock watching the earth wallow in the filth that WE CREATED in the first place? its really INCREDIBLY ironic that us humans are yearning for the stars while totally screwing up our own earth? not only is it counter intuitive, its incredibly TRAGIC as well.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.