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NASA Government Space Politics

Space Shuttle Secrets Stolen For China 473

Ponca City, We Love You writes "The Department of Justice has announced the indictment of former Boeing engineer Dongfan Chung on charges of economic espionage in the theft of company trade secrets relating to the Space Shuttle, the C-17 military transport aircraft, and the Delta IV rocket. Chung is a native of China and a naturalized US citizen. According to the indictment, Chinese aviation industry representatives began sending Chung 'tasking' letters as early as 1979. Over the years, the letters directed Chung to collect specific technological information, including data related to the Space Shuttle and various military and civilian aircraft. Chung allegedly responded in one letter indicating a desire to contribute to the 'motherland,' the DOJ said. It was not immediately clear how much, if any, damage the alleged espionage did to US national security but DOJ officials said the cases reflect the determination of the Chinese government to penetrate US intelligence and obtain vital national defense secrets. 'Today's prosecution demonstrates that foreign spying remains a serious threat in the post-Cold War world,' said Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security"
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Space Shuttle Secrets Stolen For China

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  • too much (Score:4, Insightful)

    by peektwice ( 726616 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @07:56PM (#22385454)
    too much privatization, and not enough oversight
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mrxak ( 727974 )
      I would certainly hope that every worker in our national space and military industries would have to undergo background checks and periodic lie detector tests, just like they use in the CIA.
      • Re:too much (Score:5, Funny)

        by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:10PM (#22385658) Homepage Journal
        They have lie detector tests in CIA? If you can't lie well enough, you get fired?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          It's funny because it's true--you think they're going to send in field agents who will break down under questioning? Lie detectors are the least of what they get trained and tested for--where do you think they got the idea for waterboarding from?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ThePeices ( 635180 )
            "where do you think they got the idea for waterboarding from?"

            Pol Pot?
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Indirectly, yes. Part of the SERE training our troops and (probably) CIA field agents go through involves torture resistance training, and one of the techniques they train for is waterboarding. It doesn't really make it better but at least they're familiar with what's going on, in theory. Anyway, the entire torture thing started when a few enterprising folks realized that torture resistance training also functioned as torture training.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by philwx ( 789834 )
            None of these people who sold us out were "field agents", they were all average joes that were American citizens or livedin America most of their lives, that sold us out for simple cash. The tests would (if nothing else) at least deter these people from selling us out, if not prevent it altogether.
      • Re:too much (Score:4, Informative)

        by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:11PM (#22385676) Journal
        > I would certainly hope that every worker in our national space and military industries would have to undergo background checks and periodic lie detector tests, just like they use in the CIA.

        As I mentioned in another comment, Chung had Secret-level security clearance, which (if I understand correctly) requires precisely the sort of background checks you describe.
        • Re:too much (Score:4, Informative)

          by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:20PM (#22385824) Homepage Journal
          Secret doesn't require lie detector. TS does. Various riders on Secret may require additional checking.
          • by sciop101 ( 583286 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @09:37PM (#22386696)
            Top Secret Clearance does not require a polygraph (lie detector) interview. Security Accesses within Top Secret (Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI)) may require a polygraph interview. I knew a man whose job qualificaton required he and his wife both get polygraphed.

            Security Clearance investigations are expensive. Polygraph test add to the expense.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by rabbit994 ( 686936 )
              Not to mention that aren't as effective as movies or TV Shows make them out to be. A good background investigation can generally find out alot more but background investigations are much more expensive and take up more time so now the polygraph is used to discover where a background should start.
            • Polygraphs are done for a wide range of reasons--even city police dispatchers from CA to NC get them...as to the feds, they are ridiculously anal. Even _non-sensitive_ internships and volunteer work with federal agencies have to deal with a full FBI background, reference and credit checks--Just for being in the building. And being in a sensitive position (not secret or top secret) requires full medical disclosure of all records and a more thorough FBI check and interviews (sometimes a polygraph).

              There are
        • by mrxak ( 727974 )
          Well, I know the checks aren't always perfect, but clearly they need some improvement.
      • Re:too much (Score:5, Funny)

        by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:22PM (#22385852) Journal
        > periodic lie detector tests

        Yeah, they should also undergo phrenology and palmistry exams too.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Prune ( 557140 )
          In all seriousness, palm reading is a great trick to use when picking up girls, including strangers on cold approach. It gets in immediate kino and most girls are far from skeptical about these things, and is a good way to get talking about their dreams and passions, which really opens them up very quickly. It's one of the best opener techniques in my experience.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MttJocy ( 873799 ) *
        Sure, because lie detectors are foolproof, and you cannot possibly train someone how to fool one ever, that will explain how during the likes of the cold war several soviet agents infiltrating the US successfully passed a lie detector test, sometimes on multiple separate occasions.
      • Re:too much (Score:4, Informative)

        by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:40AM (#22388200) Homepage

        I would certainly hope that every worker in our national space and military industries would have to undergo background checks and periodic lie detector tests, just like they use in the CIA.
        The CIA only uses polygraphs because it's an agency full of dumbfuck ivy league morons* who conduct themselves based on some weird internally generated self-image, rather than the realistic needs of the country. I swear, the CIA employees I was exposed to came off as intelligent, earnest dopes who had a tendency to act like everything is a James Bond movie. I was a HUMINT and COMINT analyst in the Army for eight years. I worked with some extremely sensitive information and never once had to take a polygraph. Nor did did anyone I worked with. Lie detector tests are a sham, security theater used to trick the guilty into confessing. Nobody uses the polygraph as a serious investigative tool, as anyone with any knowledge of how they work [antipolygraph.org] can invalidate the results. Really, all you have to know to realize that polygraphs are complete hogwash is that there are only two possible results: "shows signs of deception", and "inconclusive". It's a scaremonger's tool.

        * There are many examples of institutional incompetence in the CIA, but two I think exemplify it:
        Exhibit A: failure to predict the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Soviet Union. It was a complete surprise to them.
        Exhibit B: yellowcake uranium. 'nuff said.
    • Re:too much (Score:5, Informative)

      by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:09PM (#22385640) Journal
      > too much privatization, and not enough oversight

      Are you suggesting that the U.S. should produce all of its rockets in-house? That hasn't been the case since, like, the 1950s.

      Also, what do you think should have been done differently? He apparently [chicagotribune.com] had "Secret" level security clearance, which according to Wikipedia involves the following:

      A Secret clearance, also known as Ordinary Secret, requires a few months to a year to fully investigate depending on the individual's activities. Some instances where individuals would take longer than normal to be investigated are many past residences, having residences in foreign countries, or have relatives outside the United States. Bankruptcy and unpaid bills as well as criminal charges will more than likely disqualify an applicant for approval. Poor financial history is the number one cause of rejection, and foreign activities and criminal record are also common causes for disqualification. A Secret clearance requires a National Agency Check, A Local Agency Check, Credit investigation and must be reinvestigated every 10 years.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Len ( 89493 )

        Are you suggesting that the U.S. should produce all of its rockets in-house? That hasn't been the case since, like, the 1950s.

        And not then, either! America's post-war rocket technology and expertise came from Germany.

  • I don't know how we can recover from the Chinese gaining the secrets of the 1 MHz computers, and two billion dollar per-launch "reusable" technology. Ah well, the US probably stole that advanced technology from the crashed aliens anyway. It's only fair.
    • Actually, they took quite a bit of it as a bribe from a bunch of Nazi rocket scientists to keep them from being tried at Nuremburg as war criminals.
    • by tonywong ( 96839 )
      sheesh, why didn't they just keep feeding him subtley poisoned information to discredit ALL the information he's given them over the years?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by calebt3 ( 1098475 )

      and two billion dollar per-launch "reusable" technology
      They save billions in getting the tech to that point. Now they have a "working" system that they can use as a model.
    • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:33PM (#22385970) Homepage
      Ah well, the US probably stole that advanced technology from the crashed aliens anyway.

      The first indication that this was a bad idea should have been that the alien had crashed...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I understand the shuttle program, now: it was a massive plan to set the Chinese space agency back 20 years and billions of dollars by copying a crappy piece of technology! And only for the cost of, shit, billions of dollars and about 30 years. Well, it's a good try anyway.
  • by Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- ( 624050 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:00PM (#22385514) Journal
    Why is it always naturalized citizens from china, or American-born citizens who's parents were born in China that are in the news for doing this?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Don't you remember?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:05PM (#22385576)
      because China is our enemy. Our leaders are just too stupid (or getting too rich from good "relations" with them) to realize it.
      • by golodh ( 893453 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @09:33PM (#22386666)
        Honestly, industrial espionage in the US has been proven to be committed by: France (NATO ally), Israel (special ally) , Russia (ex-enemy), China (competitor).

        Nothing new there. Besides, I'd be amazed if e.g. India, Pakistan, Brazil, South Korea, Japan, South Africa, and Iran weren't also active (or trying to be active) in this field.

        Why then do we hear often about Chinese espionage? Is it just that Chinese espionage makes good headlines?

        Well ... perhaps it has something to do with the fact that there are so many (very good) ethnically Chinese engineers and scientists in the US, in all walks of life. Due to do Americans not being interested in an arduous career in Engineering or the Sciences when they can instead aim at Management, Legal services, or brokerage I'm told. Well, admittedly the Chinese government is quite organised about industrial espionage, and it's easier to get a rapport with an ethnic countryman than with some foreigner.

        So ... if we assume a fixed promillage of the population open to espionage proposals, we must expect Chinese to be over-represented. Besides which ... it's not as if the US doesn't commit industrial espionage of itself (primarily in the EU; see e.g. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2000/mar/31/ianblack [guardian.co.uk]).

        Lets just save our righteous indignation for a more worthy cause and simply shore up security on projects and firms that are attractive targets, shall we?

        • No... (Score:3, Insightful)

          No, let's encourage more people to be techies, engineers, and scientists, and pay them better than dumbass MBAs for a change.

          And let's take away China's "Most Favored" trading status, if they keep up this shit. Why not? I do not feel obligated to help other nations that then turn around and dump on us.
          • by golodh ( 893453 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:40AM (#22388202)

            No, let's encourage more people to be techies, engineers, and scientists, and pay them better than dumbass MBAs for a change.
            I'd love it if that were somehow possible. I really mean that.

            However ... I do see a few probl... err ... I mean of course "Opportunities" here.

            The first one being the opportunity to convince management in the US to pay engineers and scientists more and/or MBA's less.

            The second one would be to convince them to stop seeing the engineering and R&D departments as regrettable cost centers to be outsourced and/or off-shored at the first opportunity.

            The third opportunity would be to convince industry to offer Ph.D's opportunities (and to some extent academic entry-level positions) that make it less of a financial risk to do a Ph.D.

            Prospects for Ph.D's (depending on discipline of course) can be so awful that you have to basically tell students: "Don't do a Ph.D. unless you (a) really derive fulfillment from doing research / teaching even if you're paid half to 1/3 of what you'd get in industry and (b) you are in the top 5% of your class, or you won't be able to get tenured".

            And let's take away China's "Most Favored" trading status, if they keep up this shit. Why not? I do not feel obligated to help other nations that then turn around and dump on us.

            Well ... industrial espionage is part of doing business. Between companies as much as between countries. Besides, trade is a two-way street. It's not as if the US are providing China with development aid. The US are benefiting from cheap Chinese products too. Have you ever considered what the impact on the US would be if there were to be say, 30% import tariffs on Chinese goods?

            All those PC's, printers, T-shirts, hand tools, shoes, toys, and what not? First you'd kick off a vicious round of inflation if you did ... plus you'd be seriously hurting the bottom line of such all-American companies that have off-shored their manufactoring operations to China (just think of HP).

            Generally speaking, you'd saddle lots of US companies with higher costs which would make them vulnerable in the current economic downturn *and* make them less competitive with e.g. EU-based companies.

            Sure ... it would hurt China. They might even have riots. But it would hurt the US too. Very much so I'd say. So let's just be very sure about the cost-benefit ratio of such measures before we seriously propose them, ok? Like it or not, the US is as much networked into the global economy as China, the EU, and OPEC.

            It's not to say that the US can't rescind China's "most favoured nation" state. Of course it can! The question is: what are the costs and what are the benefits. And I submit that the costs just might be a bit steep for the satisfaction of making our displeasure about industrial espionage known.

    • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:05PM (#22385584)
      Um ... perhaps that's because they're the ones doing it. I mean, that's what enemies do. I hope you don't consider China to be a U.S. ally, because they're not and never will be so long as their government is what it is. They don't even qualify as neutral, given the effect they're having on our economy and their ongoing pillage of the U.S. economy and education system.

      Besides, I'd be surprised if we aren't doing the same thing to China, at least I'd hope we are. It's a bit more difficult in our case, since we don't have tens of thousands of American engineers and students flooding Chinese companies and schools.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Seriously? China's ongoing pillage of the U.S. education system?
        • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:30PM (#22385934)
          Seriously. I suggest you do some research on what's been going on there, for some time now. For example, a Ph.D. I know was talking about the materials science department at his school. It was flooded with Chinese students, the Dean was Chinese (a Chinese national himself, not a U.S. citizen) who would take months-long sabbaticals to China order to recruit more students for his department. They squeezed all the other students (American as well as from other countries) out. Arrogant about it too, he was telling me: it was their department, basically. He was one of the few U.S. citizens left in that particular graduate program, and this was some years ago. Others tried to get in, but there weren't enough positions left ... the Chinese had filled them all.

          They're educating themselves to advance their nation's interests, and their doing at our expense. This is happening all over, so yes, I think "pillage" is a good word. We put limits on legal immigration from different countries, with only so many allowed per year from each. That's not unusual among nations, everyone places controls on immigration. However, I think we should start doing the same thing for foreign students, especially from China since they're abusing the system. At the very least, they should only be allowed to study here if they aren't displacing U.S. citizens. Face it, the Chinese are putting their country first: I have no problem with that. However, we should start doing the same if we want to have a country.
          • by ecavalli ( 1216014 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:51PM (#22386204) Homepage
            While your signature already indicates your bias, might I ask you if you had considered the idea that Americans are being shut out simply because they don't work as hard as some of these Chinese students?

            Since your evidence is entirely anecdotal, allow me to give an anecdote of my own (ie: one that was not passed onto me by a friend): I finished college 2 years ago and during my 4 years there the Chinese, Japanese and Korean students (1st or 2nd generation) were the ones who were consistently at the top of their classes in fields like math, engineering, science, etc.

            Why is that?

            In my experience it's the direct result of them spending their free time studying these subjects while the typical American student is taking bong rips or having sex.

            Americans value the college experience for its education and social worth (bong rips and sex) while people from Asian cultures value college solely as a learning experience. They aren't there to have fun.

            (Yes, these are generalizations and are based on personally experienced anecdotes, but none of what I said here was any more biased than the parent.)
            • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2008 @10:33PM (#22387254)
              Based upon my personal experience teaching (and like hell I'm going to post non-anonymously) Chinese students are not particularly brighter than anybody else - where they stand out is in gaming the system. The myth of the "amazingly smart chinese student" arose before we all understood just how seriously they take this.

              They will focus like maniacs on getting every little edge they can to get a few points up (cheating very much included). Once you try to test them to see if they actually *understand* anything, they fall apart pretty rapidly and quite often are well behind other members of the class - when this happens they will often jump straight into the "me no understand the english so well" routine, which is just another game.

              I have met some extremely bright Chinese students, but in no higher proportion than from any other group.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Your anecdotes are typical and similar to my experiences. However, one must note that these CJK international students are a self selective group (or even government selected). They are usually top students in their country. So comparing them to a typical American (and even Asian American) domestic students (even in a top selective school) is not comparing apples to apples.

              As for Americans being shut out of education. Some are for sure. And I think that is more due to 1. culture (as you said) and 2. our own
      • "It's a bit more difficult in our case, since we don't have tens of thousands of American engineers and students flooding Chinese companies and schools." Or do you mean it is easier when CIA sends some of those people back.
      • by Flavio ( 12072 )
        They don't even qualify as neutral, given the effect they're having on our economy and their ongoing pillage of the U.S. economy and education system.

        Are you blaming China for your nation's fiscal irresponsibility? China's lending the US hundreds of billions of USD per year so Americans can buy products they can't afford. China not only gets payed for the products, but also gets interest on the loans.

        I agree that the Chinese are pillaging your educational system, but it's up to Americans to demand change an
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ScrewMaster ( 602015 )
          Read my other post in this thread. I'm not blaming China for anything: they're doing what every self-serving totalitarian state since the beginning of civilization has done ... screw everyone else and profit by their loss. Why this is not obvious to more people is a cause for some concern.

          So, I'm blaming us for letting it happen, but I would also hope that people would realize that China is not a friendly nation. They are out for themselves, and fundamentally don't grasp the concept of a trading partner:
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Flavio ( 12072 )
            Read my other post in this thread. I'm not blaming China for anything: they're doing what every self-serving totalitarian state since the beginning of civilization has done ... screw everyone else and profit by their loss. Why this is not obvious to more people is a cause for some concern.

            These things are never obvious to the masses. The majority of the population is moved by their perception of well being, and is concerned only by immediate occurrences (both in time and regarding their social network).

            From
      • Besides, I'd be surprised if we aren't doing the same thing to China, at least I'd hope we are. It's a bit more difficult in our case, since we don't have tens of thousands of American engineers and students flooding Chinese companies and schools.

        The United States has a considerable head start on just about every technological area of either interest or consequence when compared to China and especially in technologies with military applications. In other words, the Chinese don't have much that the Americans don't already know AND would be worthwhile to steal with the possible exception of intelligence on their capabilities which the United States almost certainly already collects. They rip off American movies, music, and even technology, but what h

      • soft china policy (Score:4, Informative)

        by sentientbrendan ( 316150 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @09:03PM (#22386312)
        >Besides, I'd be surprised if we aren't doing the same thing to China, at least I'd hope we are.

        I don't know. Our policy towards China has been very soft. Part of that may be the China lobby
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_lobby [wikipedia.org]

        it's sad but true that American politicians aren't always working for the American people. Foreign interests can spread money around pretty easily, although they have to use a few levels of indirection.

        Our policy, especially our trade policy, towards China has gotten ridiculous. We offer extremely low tariffs on Chinese imports, while Chinese tariffs are high. We ask them to put some effort in stopping the pirating of US products, and they respond by banning various US movies.

        Also, it's distinctly *not* in America's interest to be propping up China's communist regime by keeping China profitable. In the short term we have some economic ties to China that are hard to break. In the long term, it's almost guaranteed that there will be some military conflict with China, a country that possesses a number of thermonuclear weapons mounted on ICBM's, as long as the communist party runs the country since they depend on ultra-nationalist and anti-american rhetoric to maintain political control of the country.

        Even though the communist party knows that war with America would be a bad idea, they've relied so heavily on nationalist rhetoric, that position western powers and especially America as China's enemy, that they would have no choice but to go to war with us in a number of situations. For instance, whenever Taiwan gets around to declaring independence the Chinese government will be compelled by popular mandate to enter into war to occupy the island. The Chinese don't perceive Taiwan as an independent country and formal secession would be perceived as some kind of western aggression against Chinese territory.

        I think that war with China would be a very bad idea for the US as well. We have them thoroughly outclassed in terms of naval and air forces, but that isn't all that helpful while they still have ICBM's. However, we need to negotiate more strongly and less naively, and put some effort into hamstringing China's long term economic growth, probably by cutting them off from oil supplies and imposing some prohibitive tariffs. China's growth is largely what sustains the communist party, and a strong economic downturn over a few years would probably result in a change of government.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:06PM (#22385590)
      Because the Israelis are our friends. Espionage from Israel doesn't count.
    • China screwed the pooch technologically and economically in the early 70s, and this was part of them playing catchup. Spies are cheap. R&D is expensive.
    • because... (Score:4, Informative)

      by brian.glanz ( 849625 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @09:15PM (#22386448) Homepage Journal

      You're right to imply there is heightened sensitivity toward Chinese offenses in the media; of course, that's for good reason. Some of the answer is human nature, and some of it is cultural.

      If it's "always China" now, it is instructive to remember that it always used to be Japan. Honest Japanese Americans and all Asian Americans mistaken as vaguely Japanese struggled for decades against FUD per what their forefathers had done in World War II. In the 80s it was more about competitive concerns, but the under toe of fear was still strong. Only with the rise of China, a common rival if not opponent for Japan and the U.S., and as well with Japan's economic setbacks, did heightened reporting of Japanese espionage recede, whether governmental or IP theft. It's instructive to remember because: some of it is just about the human need for an opponent.

      Much of the answer is also, really just about China or rather Chinese culture, if not Asian versus European sensitivities. When I say it's for "good reason" that the U.S. media is especially sensitive to Chinese espionage, I observe not only from ample public evidence of organized governmental and corporate infiltration, but also from personal experience. I've had too many acquaintances from Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong as well as China who I knew were tasked to steal IP. It was a regular part of their experience where I studied (Cornell, Harvard) and later worked -- should they steal? Was it wrong? Often, family back in Asia were recruited to send tasking letters, putting all the more pressure on. It was almost never governmental at all in my experience, just corporate espionage such as theft of code, designs, chemical formulae and processes, kitchen sinks ...

      I've heard less of it but similarly in Korean, Japanese, Filipino, and other East Asian circles. I'm born and raised American, and married to a citizen of India and working in software --> I have a lot of exposure to Indian culture --> IP theft is much less prevalent in South Asia than in the farther East. Anecdotally and from some academic reading when I majored in political science, it seems to be broadly East Asian but especially Chinese. I'm not saying the Chinese are less ethical, except from an especially American perspective; rather, it is the sense among Chinese that corporate espionage and spying in general is a fair competitive practice.

      In the United States especially but all throughout the West, we have a fundamental cultural difference with the Chinese on this note. Oh sure, we do a lot of spying and stealing, but we generally think it's a moral wrong to do so. This doesn't mean we don't spy, but it means that when we do it, is always against a static coefficient of cultural friction; we are starting from a position that spying and IP theft are wrong.

      In China and broadly Asia, IP is almost a misnomer -- ideas are not so much property at all, as part of the more general philosophical difference in which individual ownership and property are fundamentally weaker concepts over there. The degree to which Chinese spy is altogether different because the general assumption is that nearly everyone is doing it and to the greatest extent they can. They hide their spying of course, but not so much because they feel it is wrong, more simply because it is more effective when hidden. Because the Chinese execute against a kinetic coefficient of cultural friction, they enjoy a basic competitive advantage against Western entities.

      In the U.S. therefore, we are not only afraid that the Chinese are spying. We are even more afraid that they don't think it's wrong, that they're effectively doing it every chance they get, that we have been largely ignorant of this basic cultural difference for decades, and frankly, that they are better at it than we are.

      Expect it to be "always China" for a long time to come, and expect culturally American, ethnically Chinese, and good honest engineers and professionals in the U.S. to suffer the prejudicial consequences. BG

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:01PM (#22385536)
    Up to now, China was finding it very difficult to get their vehicles to explode.

    These secrets will put them decades ahead in this area.
  • Should the Chinese develop warpdrive technology, we'll be sure to pass along the info to the USA.

    Tit for Tat.
  • Uhm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:03PM (#22385550) Homepage
    Are the designs to the Space Shuttle even worth stealing? It's thus far proven to be an expensive and unreliable launch platform.

    If anything, China would serve itself better by looking to the North, and copying Soyuz. Hell... I'm sure the Russians would be willing to sell the designs/equipment for most of their spacecraft for a very reasonable price, given their perpetual funding woes.

    Even ignoring all that, it's still 1970s technology.
    • It might serve 'em better to try and buy one of these [wikipedia.org] from Russia instead...

      /P

      • Do we even know that those plans even still exist?

        Buran/Energia was certainly a cool platform, although it very well may have had its own set of faults apart from the Shuttle. It does make me sad that it only flew a single time.

        As it stands, Russia's next-gen vehicle, Kliper, offers the closest thing to a "best of both worlds" solution, and stands a good chance of becoming operational before Orion.
    • Even ignoring all that, it's still 1970s technology.

      I'm tired of hearing this generalization repeated over and over again.

      The "Space Shuttle" system was, and remains, one of the most complex and sophisticated 'machines that moves' ever designed and built.

      • Re:Uhm (Score:4, Insightful)

        by afabbro ( 33948 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:22PM (#22385850) Homepage
        The "Space Shuttle" system was, and remains, one of the most complex and sophisticated 'machines that moves' ever designed and built.

        And hopefully the Chinese will now go off and waste 30 years on it like we did.

      • The "Space Shuttle" system was, and remains, one of the most complex and sophisticated 'machines that moves' ever designed and built.

        This doesn't strike me as necessarily being a good thing. Quite the opposite -- with the space shuttle, there are literally billions of things that can go wrong. Challenger failed because a few bits of rubber had slightly different thermal properties than were originally anticipated.

        A capsule-based launch system offers far greater simplicity, and also offers numerous modes of recovery in the event of a failure. Apollo 13 was nearly torn to shreds, and managed to orbit the moon and land safely. The pres

    • by FleaPlus ( 6935 )
      > Are the designs to the Space Shuttle even worth stealing? It's thus far proven to be an expensive and unreliable launch platform.

      It seems from the article that the espionage started in the early 80s. Back then the technology was probably somewhat more worth stealing.
    • Copying? Improving is more the bent I'm guessing. It is a lot easier to take an existing design and go "what in the hell were they thinking?" than to sit around a table coming up with everything from scratch.
    • Even ignoring all that, it's still 1970s technology.

      ...which was used mostly to launch spy satellites.

      That's probably not as much of a concern as keeping *any* space related information out of their hands these days. We're apparently in another space race- and just like before, it's purely for political, military, and military industry reasons. Bush getting to leave some sort of "legacy" is just a side bonus.

    • Re:Uhm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:35PM (#22386008)
      Nonsense. Nobody says that they have to copy the design intact. Whatever problems the Shuttle may be as a complete system, the fact is that there's decades of useful R&D in the underlying technologies that make it work, and that's incredibly valuable stuff any foreign power wanting a leg up into space. Hell, the materials science alone would be worthwhile. The software, too, while it runs on archaic S360 equipment is also pretty remarkable for what it does, and you can bet your bottom dollar the Chinese would love to get their hands on it. Any step we took, any research we did, and knowledge we have that advances the Chinese space development timetable is worth keeping to ourselves.

      Never let the enemy have anything for free.
    • by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @09:21PM (#22386518)
      Even ignoring all that, it's still 1970s technology.

      Yeesh, this canard again. Look, when we really think about it, don't you think it's only an occasionally useful rule of thumb that the age of a technology has some correlation to its quality and cleverness? Why should it? Is it really reasonable to assume that every technological problem has an infinite number of solutions, which will always be discovered in ascending order of cleverness?

      I mean, do we argue that astronauts shouldn't use ball-point pens in orbit because that's 1960s technology, and surely there must be something better now? That they shouldn't use handkerchiefs to blow their nose because that's 16th century technology? NASA shouldn't use wheels on the design of a moon rover because wheels were invented 5000 years ago? They should use something other than calculus to calculate orbits because it was invented in the 1620s and hasn't changed a bit since? Sometimes the best solution to a problem is an old and well-known one. Newer isn't automatically better.

      It seems to me that the Space Shuttle was designed at the end of the golden age of rocketry: in the 50s and 60s clever youngsters went into aerospace the way they went into computers and the Internet in the 80s and 90s. It was exciting, it was way out on the frontier, and it paid decently. NASA and their contractors collected most of the best, and they did pretty impressive engineering work. Yes, they didn't have some of the fancy electronics parts their descendants have now, but avionics is only part of the spacecraft -- and when you're talking about a spacecraft that has to survive two very high-energy events (launch and re-entry) -- the quality and coolness of the avionics is probably not the key criterion for design success. Something like airframe design, system robustness, and a canny use of materials is probably way more important.

      Since the 1980s, however, aerospace engineering talent in the US has aged and shrunk, and far fewer of the best and brightest go into the field. Furthermore, the excitement and potential glory of a real frontier-type mission is missing. Designing reliable electric bus connectors for solar-power panels on the ISS isn't quite the same as trying to squeeze an extra 5 ounces out of the weight of the first manned Mars lander. It doesn't attract the very best young talent.

      So it may very well be that the "1970s technology" design of the SS is as good or better than what could be done today, avionics aside. Certainly the difficulty which private aerospace has had recently in trying to duplicate, essentially, the circa 1965 Saturn 1B medium-lift launch vehicle should make one pause thoughtfully before concluding that it's just a piece of cake to design a combination heavy-lift vehicle and re-usable manned spaceplane seating 10 that leaves the SS in the dust. I mean, if it were easy to do better -- wouldn't someone have done so, already? It's not like there isn't a fortune to be made by the first organization that can get 50 tons of cargo and a crew of 10 to LEO for 10% of the price of a SS launch.
  • by LoadWB ( 592248 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:05PM (#22385582) Journal
    Seriously. At what point do we consider a country so dangerous that we will not longer do business with it? When do we finally say "go screw yourself" to dangerous governments?

    Continuing to do business with China is like having a Gremlin as a pet. Or having a stuffed clown in your bedroom. Anyone growing up in the 80s will tell you those are two VERY big no-nos.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      When they begin to bomb us.

      Right now we are getting loads of cheap and almost okay quality products.

      It's a tradeoff. I don't like it mind you. Shipping slavery to another continent is not something I approve of.
    • by mrxak ( 727974 )
      By being involved with China, we have an opportunity to influence them. Do you seriously think that just ignoring the problem makes it go away? For decades we've not had relations with various countries around the world, and it's done nothing at all. When we are in there, spreading our Wal-Marts, McDonalds, rock and roll, and blue jeans, we can subvert other nations so the people start to like us even if their government doesn't. Propaganda and censorship doesn't work so well when we're in there giving a di
    • When they stop lending us money we are never going to pay back.
    • Seriously. At what point do we consider a country so dangerous that we will not longer do business with it? When do we finally say "go screw yourself" to dangerous governments?

      Continuing to do business with China is like having a Gremlin as a pet. Or having a stuffed clown in your bedroom. Anyone growing up in the 80s will tell you those are two VERY big no-nos.

      Naw, I'd say doing business with China is like signing on as a henchman with the Joker, you're just going to get poisoned with some crazy chemical shit that has no purpose inside a human body and if you survive that, the cheap joy buzzer probably has a wiring short and will electrocute you. Just imagine Chairman Mao in white facepaint with a bright red clown grin.

  • I knew the West Wing was correct. There IS a Military Shuttle!
  • by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:07PM (#22385604)
    Apparently the Chinese have stolen all the information they want on how to do things. Now they're down to stealing information on how not to do a space program.
  • The engineering of rockets is so far behind where it could be because of national security issues.
  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:10PM (#22385660) Journal
    They can write some code that doesn't need a shedload of debugging [fastcompany.com]...

    Okay, on a serious note, this is 1976(?) tech here. I can understand wanting it real bad in 1979, but, err, 32 year-old-stuff is kinda dated when you consider that we routinely give China techonology that's a whole Hell of a lot newer [theregister.co.uk].

    Besides, weren't they going to retire the Shuttle anyway? If China wants one so bad, why not sell 'em a used one for a decent markup?

    As someone who has worked in and around certain aircraft projects a very long time ago, I can say for certain that this guy would've never even hoped to get near, say, an F-117 or B-2 project... there's too much compartmentalization (especially between NASA and the USAF/USN, for Hell's sakes...)

    Given all of that - unless the guy started hacking mainframes and whatnot @ Boeing, I guess I just don't see where there would be a really huge dent in US national security at this point. He wouldn't have had the clearance, for starters.

    /P

  • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:13PM (#22385730) Homepage
    This story is peanuts compared to the Sibel Edmonds saga.

    http://www.amconmag.com/2008/2008_01_28/article1.html [amconmag.com]

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-giraldi/sibel-edmonds-must-be-hea_b_84781.html [huffingtonpost.com]

  • by bhmit1 ( 2270 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:17PM (#22385764) Homepage
    Is the CIA willing to raise their right hand and swear that they haven't tried to steal any secrets from other countries? If we are going to do these sorts of things, it's a little hypocritical to go off the deep end when another country does the same.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Espionage is a way of life amongst governments.

      If American-backed spies stole Chinese plans, the Chinese would be up in arms, milking it for all it's worth. That's what everyone does.
    • Enough with this "fairness" crap. There's no hypocrisy here whatsoever: everybody tries to steal from everyone else, even allies (maybe especially allies.) Was the Cold War "fair"? Like it not, we're in another Cold War right now, with China. So this isn't about the Chinese being bad guys for stealing from us, or us being bad guys for stealing from anyone else. That is entirely expected behavior on all sides, so forget about any ideas you have that we're somehow "wrong" because we spied on somebody. Please.
  • I didn't read TFA (apparently), but this last name sounds like Taiwanese. In mainland it should be chang, chuang, etc, but not chung.

    Apparently, only in such cases is Taiwan part of China.

  • ..they used rubber o-rings to connect the liquid fuel lines.
  • I would like the USA to confirm or deny the fact that it too, has a number of spies operating in these countries.

    What bothers me most is the fact that my president's term is quickly coming to an end but I am yet to see any good to remind me of his legacy. What am I missing about my president's record?

    It is all been incompetence, poor judgment, corruption and cronyism. The sooner this administration goes, the better.

    • I would like the USA to confirm or deny the fact that it too, has a number of spies operating in these countries.

      Irrelevant. If ours are caught there, then they'll freak out just as much as we are.

      What bothers me most is the fact that my president's term is quickly coming to an end but I am yet to see any good to remind me of his legacy. What am I missing about my president's record?

      Wow, people like you can drag Bush into anything...

      It is all been incompetence, poor judgment, corruption and cronyism. The so
  • The only time many of the politicians, lobbyists and contractors seem to work together is to make as much money off China as they can while pretending to be concerned about security. Who can be surprised about all the Chinese spys when mysterious money men with Chinese connections always seem to turn up in campaigns? I just got done reading about China having penetrated US and Australian (UK too I think) databases:

    "China has penetrated U.S. databases: 'They are already in and we have to find them'

    http://www [worldtribune.com]
  • Oh man (Score:5, Funny)

    by gerddie ( 173963 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:40PM (#22386052)
    Bribing someone to get information - that's so last millennium. Real man just seize laptops at the immigration check point and ask politely for all the passwords.
  • It'll just put 'em 30 years behind us. Given the current state of NASA, we can use every edge we can get.
  • If the guy was discovered spying in China and sending secrets to the U.S., he wouldn't have to suffer the indignities of an indictment. But his family would be billed for the bullet.
  • by jessecurry ( 820286 ) <jesse@jessecurry.net> on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:59PM (#22386274) Homepage Journal
    If we were to "open source" all of this super secret technology I don't think that anything bad would happen. Many of the other nations in the world simply don't have the resources to really pursue constructing technology to do things like enter space, those that do could probably drive innovation; besides, being open about these things would probably do wonders for the perception of the US abroad.

According to all the latest reports, there was no truth in any of the earlier reports.

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