Skip to comments.Now China is sending a man into space. Why?
Posted on 10/11/2003 2:57:37 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
The writer is chairwoman of the National Security Decision Making Department at the U.S. Naval War College.
NEWPORT, Rhode Island As the countdown clock ticks away, best-guesses have set the Chinese launching of their first taikonaut, or yuhangyuan, into orbit on or around Oct. 15, 2003. The date, however, is still uncertain since the Chinese always maintain some ambiguity to save face if difficulties occur. The Shenzhou V - "Divine Vessel" - capsule will be launched into orbit by a Long March (CZ) 2F rocket. The event will make China the third country in the world to have a manned space capability, joining the exclusive club of the United States and Russia.
The Chinese space program is an ambitious one. It is also one which has generated concern and questions in the United States and throughout the world.
. First, why are the Chinese pursuing a manned space program? China said in 2000 that space activity is an integral part of the state's comprehensive development strategy. But manned space activity is both high-risk and high-cost, so why go down that road?
. Some American analysts see China's manned space activity as a Trojan horse within which they can conceal their military space activities. Others see it as a prestige program, enhancing domestic legitimacy for the government and regional leadership, and ranking China internationally "with the big boys." The U.S. Apollo program, for example, had multiple goals: reaching the moon in the cold war race against the Soviets (with a military spillover), as well as employing lots of Americans and improving their technological skills and education along the way. There is considerable evidence that the Chinese seek the same objectives.
. The second question often asked is, "How much are they spending on their program?" Though the Chinese do not release budget figures, estimates from U.S. analysts are about $2.2 billion annually. What can one conclude from that figure, especially when compared with NASA's $15 billion budget? The answer is, nothing. The comparison is meaningless when one considers China's command economy, difficulties with currency conversion and the fact that China deliberately over employs people in state-owned enterprises to keep unemployment down.
. The best that can be said, based on their commitment to the program, is that China is spending relatively significant government resources. Interestingly, the same factors that make comparisons impossible may also enable China to maintain the political will to develop space stations, lunar bases, and even missions to Mars - goals that China has publicly stated it wants to pursue. Ultimately, however, political will can only be sustained by one thing - success.
. The will to succeed raises the third question: Will the first manned launching of the Shenzhou V be successful? Are the Chinese merely copying the technology of the United States and Russia? What would a successful launching mean in terms of gauging Chinese technical - read military - capabilities? .
But if the Chinese are able to pull this off, it will mean that they have achieved very complex levels of rocket engineering; otherwise, the exclusive club would likely not be so exclusive. .
Contradictory assessments on what success would mean militarily lead to an important question that has not been asked so far: What will be the reaction of the American public to a successful Chinese manned space launching? Washington was surprised by the public's stunned response to Sputnik. Though a technological "blip," Americans saw it as threatening their security and global stature, and the government was forced to respond in ways it had not anticipated.
. Few Americans are even aware that the Chinese are preparing the launching of Shenzhou V. That it is likely to occur while the U.S. shuttle fleet is grounded will magnify how the United States and the world perceive China's technological achievement. Certainly, some in Washington will react by claiming that the launching requires the United States to spend more money on space. In policy circles, its perceived strategic importance could also chill recently warmed U.S.-China relations. But will it also trigger a demand to reinvigorate the U.S. manned space program? At the moment, although an austere version of the International Space Station is in orbit, it has been a stepchild while military space has ascended in importance.
. If China successfully launches a taikonaut into orbit, it is likely to "win" in all the ways the United States did during the Apollo series. If the launching is not a success, China will suffer and mourn just as the United States did after the loss of the Challenger and the Columbia, and then it will rethink whether to continue with the program. Success in the heavens is spectacular, but so too is failure. .
The writer is chairwoman of the National Security Decision Making Department at the U.S. Naval War College. The views expressed in this article are the author's alone. Reprinted with permission from YaleGlobal Online (http://yaleglobal.yale.edu). Celestial ambitions
People's Daily message board China power: posted: 10/10/2003 02:12 PM - Just in the last twelfth months, China has launched one of the world's most advanced Destroyer, started production on advanced Stealth fighter FC/1, now sending an astronaut into space. It's about time, China have more scientists and engineers than any nation in the world. As they say, if there are only 200 million Chinese in the world, it will be a force to be reckoned with, but can you imagine 1.27 billion Chinese!? Now it is the time to challenge the world!! China has awaken!, now it is our turn!!
Japs, beware!! Now is the time to pour money to build the world's most advanced navy and airforce, and yes of course, build space power to shoot down all of those GPS satelites. And yes, put only the smartest Chinese men and boys to man those technologically sophisticated weaponry, Chinese military's personnel quality is at all time high. [End]
Manned space flight worth the risks By Jake Garn *** HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT is not a luxury. Nor is it a whim, passing fad or eccentric hobby. Make no mistake, human space flight is critical to the future well-being of the United States and, ultimately, the world. The continuation of human space flight is a necessity.
For those who accept that premise, it is vital that we get the space shuttle flying again as safely and as quickly as possible. Our very future may depend on it.
To not understand or acknowledge that Earth is but a stepping stone for humankind is to ignore history, reality and Manifest Destiny. Through age, natural catastrophe or by our own hand, life on Earth has a finite amount of time left. For the human species to go on, we must go out into the far and promising reaches of space. We will do this, or we will eventually perish on the stepping stone adjacent to endless possibilities and salvation.
....Human space flight is not a luxury, and the People's Republic of China, above all others, seems to recognize that. The PRC is poised to launch its first astronauts, and with them launch potentially the most ambitious plan ever for humans in space.
They have their eyes on the moon, Mars and beyond. The question for our country is: Do we cede the future of human space flight, and the future in general, to them or another nation?***
Derbyshire: Hitting the Great Wall of China***QingLian had a copy of my article and said it was disgraceful for me to use the phrase "Chinese Imperialism." China had been a victim of imperialism! How could China even think of practicing imperialism? Disgraceful! I made some obvious responses with, of course, no effect at all.
We had, in fact, hit the wall. You always do hit the wall with the Chinese when the National Question comes up. It makes no difference if you are talking with Communists or Nationalists, old or young, government flacks or dissidents. I found QingLian formidably articulate. She defended her opinions with the force of a strong intellect.
This experience is very familiar to me. You are sitting there kicking ideas around with some friendly, witty, well-educated, and worldly people. Then the National Question comes up, and suddenly the façade of reason and sophistication drops away and you are confronted by something cold, hostile, and atavistic-the reptilian brain stem. The attachment of the Chinese to every inch of the territory of the old Manchu empire is rooted so deep, it cannot be touched by reason or argument.
The same applies to the resentment the Chinese feel for the humiliations inflicted upon them in the nineteenth century by Japan and the European powers. To an outsider, this seems a little unfair. By far the larger part of the Chinese people's sufferings these past 200 years has been visited on them by their own countrymen. The greatest calamity to afflict China in the nineteenth century was not the depredations of foreign imperialism, but the Taiping Rebellion, an entirely Chinese phenomenon.
Similarly, if there is a prize awarded in hell for murdering Chinese people, the easy winner for the twentieth century division is Mao. All this is forgotten in the fixation on foreign wickedness. A well-adjusted Chinese citizen is expected to have "moved on" from the horrors of Maoism (1949-76) but to be fuming with great indignation at the Opium Wars (1839-42).***
Derbyshire: SORRY STATE (Communist, Nationalist, and Dangerous)***OBSTACLES TO EMPIRE - The grand project of restoring and Sinifying the Manchu dominions has unfortunately met three stumbling blocks. The first was Outer Mongolia, from which the Chinese garrison was expelled following the collapse of Manchu rule. The country declared independence in 1921 under Soviet auspices, and that independence was recognized by Chiang Kai-shek's government in 1945, in return for Soviet recognition of themselves as the "the Central Government of China." Mao seems not to have been very happy about this. In 1954, he asked the Soviets to "return" Outer Mongolia. I do not know the position of China's current government towards Outer Mongolia, but I should not be surprised to learn that somewhere in the filling cabinets of China's defense ministry is a detailed plan for restoring Outer Mongolia to the warm embrace of the Motherland, as soon as a suitable opportunity presents itself.
The second is Taiwan. No Chinese Imperial dynasty paid the least attention to Taiwan, or bothered to claim it. The Manchus did, though, in 1683, and ruled it in a desultory way, as a prefecture of Fujian Province, until 1887, when it was upgraded to a province in its own right. Eight years later it was ceded to Japan, whose property it remained until 1945. In its entire history, it has been ruled by Chinese people seated in China's capital for less than four years. China's current attitudes to Taiwan are, I think, pretty well known.
And the third stumbling block to the restoration of China's greatness is .the United States. To the modern Chinese way of thinking, China's proper sphere of influence encompasses all of East Asia and the western Pacific. This does not mean that they necessarily want to invade and subjugate all the nations of that region, though they certainly do want to do just that to Taiwan and some groups of smaller islands. For Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Micronesia, etc., the old imperial-suzerainty model would do well enough, at least in the short term. These places could conduct their own internal affairs, so long as they acknowledged the overlordship of Beijing, and, above all, did not enter into alliances, nor even close friendships, with other powers.
Which, of course, too many of them have done, the competitor power in every case being the U.S. It is impossible to overstate how angry it makes the Chinese to think about all those American troops in Japan, Korea, and Guam, together with the U.S. Seventh Fleet steaming up and down in "Chinese" waters, and electronic reconnaissance planes like the EP-3 brought down on April 1 operating within listening distance of the mainland. If you tackle Chinese people on this, they usually say:
"How would you feel if there were Chinese troops in Mexico and Jamaica, and Chinese planes flying up and down your coasts?" Leaving aside the fact that front companies for the Beijing regime now control both ends of the Panama Canal, as well as Freeport in the Bahamas, the answer is that the United States is a democracy of free people, whose government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, so that the wider America's influence spreads, the better for humanity: while China is a corrupt, brutish, and lawless despotism, the close containment of which is a pressing interest for the whole human race. One cannot, of course, expect Chinese people to be very receptive to this answer.
Or, indeed, to anything much we have to say on the subject of their increasing militant and assertive nationalism. We simply have no leverage here. It is no use trying to pretend that this is the face-saving ideology of a small leadership group, forced on an unwilling populace at gunpoint. The Chinese people respond eagerly to these ultra-nationalist appeals: That is precisely why the leadership makes them. Resentment of the U.S., and a determination to enforce Chinese hegemony in Asia, are well-nigh universal among modern mainland Chinese. These emotions trump any desire for constitutional government, however much people dislike the current regime for its corruption and incompetence. Find a mainlander, preferably one under the age of thirty, and ask him which of the following he would prefer: for the Communists to stay in power indefinitely, unreformed, but in full control of the "three T's" (Tibet, Turkestan, Taiwan); or a democratic, constitutional government without the three T's. His answer will depress you. You can even try this unhappy little experiment with dissidents: same answer.
Is there anything we can do about all this? One thing only. We must understand clearly that there will be lasting peace in East Asia when, and only when, China abandons her atavistic fantasies of imperial hegemony, withdraws her armies from the 2 million square miles of other people's territory they currently occupy, and gets herself a democratic government under a rule of law. Until that day comes, if it ever does, the danger of war will be a constant in relations between China and the world beyond the Wall, as recent events in the South China Sea have illustrated. Free nations, under the indispensable leadership of the United States, must in the meantime struggle to maintain peace, using the one, single, and only method that wretched humanity, in all its millennia of experience, has so far been able to devise for that purpose: Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum. ***
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It is in the breaking news sidebar!
NASA's workforce - NASA's mission?***NASA has serious personnel problems. Twenty-five percent of its scientists and engineers will be eligible to retire in the next three to five years, and, as the agency's workforce has been graying, few fresh-faced recruits have been coming through its doors. NASA needs to offer incentives to potential hires.
Scientists and engineers make up 60 percent of NASA's employees, so there's a great need to bring more in. However, universities are graduating fewer technicians than they used to, so there is a great deal of competition for them. While NASA cannot match the salaries in the private sector, it can offer a unique mission. As a consequence, a few additional incentives could be enough to tip skilled personnel into signing and staying at NASA - in spite of sub-standard compensation.
........While NASA scientists still have the ability to shoot for the moon (and further), their purpose can only come from the president. This is where Mr. Bush must step up, preferably at his next State of the Union. We again urge President Bush to announce his long-range goals for the manned space program during that speech, which will happen near the one-year anniversary of the Columbia tragedy. NASA is not likely to have a problem recruiting extraordinary people when it once again takes on extraordinary missions.***
Translation: "Therefore, he who desires peace, let him prepare for war"
That sums it up for me.
Yes, and NASA needs to join in or be left behind.
America already has begun to unveil somthing spectacular. The people have awoke and begun to purge leftists from the government, albiet a few years later than the USSR and China.
Bingo. China will place military weapons in space and blackmail the world. We taught them everything they know and they will enslave us for our trouble.
What exactly? You mean like an attack on the US or what?
Bump!........from someone in a position to know.
I think it's great. Competition spurs development.
Funny... this is the same stance we took with Japan in the mid/late 1930's. Same game just a different player.
These are thorny issues actually. I don't have any answers for them myself.
Re: Mad Mag. I'm getting that same feeling. [peaceful feeling coming on]
That thing still on the racks?
Might have to get a copy.
If it's like it was, many years ago, it's better than the local rag. LOL
They may be right. Their long-term goal is not simply a space program, but a lunar colony; a concept the U.S. abandoned in the 1970s because of short-sightedness.
The Chinese think longer than we do. Imagine, knowing what you know now, that it is the 1800s, and as a colonial power you have the military and technical ability to claim all of the lands that are now Saudi Arabia, and that those lands are currently uninhabited, so all you would have to do is simply go claim them. Would you do it?
The moon has a resource far more valuable than the oil of Saudi Arabia. That resource is Helium-3, which isn't available in significant quantity on Earth. With it (and ordinary deuterium easily extracted from seawater) fusion becomes almost trivial. We have an essentially clean and practically limitless source of energy within our grasps, and we're going to give it away to the Chinese because we are too busy spending our childrens' seed corn on social programs.
If you had the good fortune to see A BEATIFUL MIND, a picture that won some awards a couple of years ago, you might have caught a glimpse of the paradigm that is opperant in todays "Global economy." We are letting China get ahead of us in the hope that they will accept second place with the rest of us. This hope is ill-founded!
Since we're at war, I think we need to error on the side of caution. How that will pay out, I don't know.
I don't know.
The Chinese telescope will be about one meter (three feet) in diameter, weigh two tonnes and have a lifetime of three years, according to the paper. The report comes as the world's most populous nation is eagerly waiting to become the third country to put a man into space after Russia and the United States. ***