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Re: Chinese Permanent MoonBase in 2006 - 2007?

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  • millennium
    From: millennium To: StarShipChina@yahoogroups.com Date:  Sat May 31, 2003  2:23 pm Subject:  Chinese Permanent MoonBase in 2006 -
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2003
      From: millennium <unamity@...>
      To: StarShipChina@yahoogroups.com
      Date:  Sat May 31, 2003  2:23 pm
      Subject:  Chinese Permanent MoonBase in 2006 - 2007?



      The race into space,
      29 May 2003

      http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20030528-092308-4284r.htm

      By Robert S. Walker
          
          Are the Chinese serious about human space flight? Most definitely.
      And they are interested in doing more than simply going to low Earth
      orbit. They are headed for the moon.

          For most of last year, the Commission on the Future of the U.S.
      Aerospace Industry looked at our nation's position relative to our
      global competition. Clearly, the Europeans are determined to challenge
      our preeminence in commercial aviation, and the challenge to our
      leadership in space is coming from the Pacific Rim.

          The conclusion that the Chinese are engaged in an aggressive space
      program is my own, based upon the commission's findings, but not
      included in the panel's final report. What we saw and heard during our
      year of hearings and investigation convinced me that China intends to
      be on the moon within a decade and will announce they are there for a
      permanent stay. An investment of less than 1 percent of their growth
      revenues over the next decade would provide revenue for a very robust
      program.

          When the aerospace commission visited the Russian cosmonaut
      training facility at Star City, we found a Chinese crew in residence.
      Since the Chinese space program seems to be basing its technology on
      Russian equipment, the presence of Chinese in Star City was not all
      that surprising. But where they were training was.

          The day we were visiting, the Chinese crew was utilizing the EVA
      (extra-vehicular activity) building. You do not train for EVAs if you
      are doing simple orbital missions. EVAs are typically related to
      space-based construction work.

          Put the Star City experience together with some direct discussions
      on the Pacific Rim and the picture becomes clear. Many Japanese space
      observers are convinced that China has a moon program and that,
      ultimately, Japan may be drawn into the competition. India already has
      created its own moon mission, in large part because they are monitoring
      Chinese space efforts.

       At my Washington office a few weeks ago, I met with a visiting
      Japanese parliamentarian who specializes in science and technology
      issues. I related to him my belief that the Chinese would be on the
      moon within a decade with a declaration of permanent occupation. He
      disagreed. He smiled and said my conclusion was accurate but my timing
      was off. In his view, the Chinese would be on the moon within three to
      four years.

          Regardless of who is right about the time frame, and I still
      believe that even a decade is ambitious, the fact remains that the
      Chinese are devoting resources and gearing up to do something that we
      are no longer technologically capable of achieving in the immediate
      future. We went to the moon, planted our flag, gathered samples, took
      credit for an amazing achievement in human history and then abandoned
      the effort. The space technology available to us today could not be
      used to replicate what we did 35 years ago.

          For many Americans, our inability to compete in a new moon race
      will not be important. Been there, done that. But for our strategic
      thinkers and planners, there are some serious questions that arise from
      a Chinese moon capability.

          First, a nation with the technological capacity to do a sustained
      moon program would have achieved an ability to build, integrate and
      utilize spacecraft. Without even ascribing any hostile intent to such a
      capability, our strategic planners would have to acknowledge the
      profound impact on the balance of power.

          Second, the Chinese have a long history of undertaking projects
      designed to enhance their national image. As the second nation ever to
      land humans on the lunar surface, China would attain international
      prestige. As the nation that establishes a permanent presence on the
      moon, the Chinese would have an ongoing international impact.

          Third, as the nation in position to exploit moon resources, China
      could leapfrog the world in some important earthbound technologies.
      Scientists have acknowledged the usefulness of H3 in helping achieve
      nuclear fusion success. The moon appears to be a large source of
      naturally occurring H3, a commodity that would be of such value that
      the transport back to Earth would be economically feasible.

          So far, there has been little recognition of or concern about the
      Chinese moon program in U.S. policy circles. But it represents a real
      challenge to our leadership role in space.

          Our response to the challenge should be aimed not at another moon
      program of our own, but the development of technologies that would give
      us the option of several different missions within a decade. Building
      new propulsion systems, such as nuclear plasma engines, would provide
      us with the ability to go back to the moon, but also to go to Mars in a
      mission taking weeks rather than months.

          The Chinese moon program appears to be a go whether we get back in
      the game or not. Space dominance is a 21st-century challenge we dare
      not refuse. The aerospace commission concluded that stretching our
      technological reach with new power and propulsion options and
      developing the capacity to get to low Earth orbit regularly and less
      expensively would help us hold our space leadership position well into
      the future.
          
          Robert S. Walker, former chairman of the House Science Committee,
      served last year as chairman of the Commission on the Future of the
      U.S. Aerospace Industry. He currently is chairman of Wexler and Walker
      Public Policy Associates.


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