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
No, they are average, nothing special, no Einsteins among them [not since they have a need to eliminated anyone with a brain.] They have the well-known tendency to move together as a whole society and they often change direction overnight, but at the moment they are going into outer space because all avenues of expansion on earth are closed. If they are successful in outer space, nothing will stop them, average joes though they are.
I hope for a long-term sustained program that wont be canceled at the whim of the next congress that gets voted in.
Are you implying they will orbit sideways?
False. China has never worried about casualties. If they lose an astronaut or two, they'll declare them heroes, name a school after them, and send up some more just as soon as they can.
Only the U.S. government loses it's nerve completely after every 7 accidental deaths.
That would be incorrect and counter-productive. We should restart our own space program and leave everyone in the dust.
This is why China may well beat us. I doubt that the head honchos of the Party there have a Congress, much less a public, to answer to. The 2 year cycle we have where Congress can change may well prove to be our undoing here, since most Congresscritters and other elected officials are election-oriented. This tends to make their time horizions pretty short, and anything that can't be resolved in that neat time frame gets kicked down the road. Unfortunately, space travel require a long-term commitment that the present Congress likely won't support, or not support enough. China, on the other hand, has none of these built-in problems in their political system.
Reminds me of a short story published in Analog a few years back about the Japanese shopping around for a partner for a manned Mars expedition. Long story short (or is it short story even shorter?), the Japanese partner up with some Arab emirate, precisely because the Arab honcho could guarantee long-term support, whereas the Americans with their political process could not.
Helium-3 (H3 is tritium, and to my knowledge there is no tritium in significant quanities) is present on the moon due to constant bombardment by the solar wind. It is retained in the regolith itself, although it (being essentially inert) isn't chemically bonded to it (think of some materials, such as ilmenite, a mineral composed of iron, titanium, and oxygen, as a "sponge" for it).
Mining it is almost trivial. All you have to do is find the areas with the densest concentration (for example, maria on the far side), pick up the dust, and heat it. Due to the way it got there, the richest deposits are all on the surface. It's almost as if all the gold in a gold mine were in the form of nuggets you could pick up as you walked around it.
We also have a philosophy of science, and they have non, neither God nor science. We will win if we choose to run.
I think this is pretty spectacular.
If Ameicans keep shelling out the shekels for the Chinese manufactured merchandise we'll be fulfilling Lenin's prophesy. People gobble up all the Christmas decorations, all of which are manufactured by the Chi Coms, apparently not remembering that last year just before Christmas, they executed 48 Chinese Christians.
Yet we continue blithely along spending billions on, not only decorations, but on teddy bears, shoes, clothing, appliances, cooking ware, etc. etc.!
By the time America wakes up, we'll have morphed into a third world country ourselves making it easier to fold us into the New World Order.
And it has, by coincidence, been thirty years since the US made any significant progress. Nor are we likely to do anything significant any time soon. Even if we tried, all our efforts are mired in the hopelessly stagnant culture of NASA.
Space exploration is entertainment. It's not entertaining anymore, so who, like, cares?
Uh...no. D-T fusion is actually easier to achieve, D-H3 makes for a simpler reactor. We are nowhere near achieving the breakeven point for either.
No. D-T is D-H3 (H3 is tritium. Or did you mean D-He3?). In any case, D-T fusion is "easier to achieve" only from the standpoint of the coulomb forces (and associated temperatures) involved (essentially about 10keV vs. 50keV), and ignores the real-world engineering issues. In a D-T reaction, most of your energy comes out as neutrons; not only making it almost worthless for power production, but complicating other engineering problems as well (thermal loss, shielding issues, radioactivity of containment system, etc). With D-He3 fusion, a lot of the engineering problems of D-T fusion are significantly reduced since it is mostly aneutronic (there is some unintended neutron production from "side" reactions, but there are theoretical ways to eliminate these as an issue). While He3-D fusion can't be achieved in a conventional Tokamak, there are other (high plasma beta) designs where breakeven He3-D fusion should be theoretically achievable. Because the energy produced in He3-D can more easily sustain the reaction (far more so than the neutrons of a D-T reaction), an He3-D reactor should have a superior Lawson value, and thus provides the only long-term solution to the fusion problem, something D-T fusion will never do. Except as a laboratory curiousity, D-T fusion is a waste of time.
We are nowhere near achieving the breakeven point for either.
Not true. We could build a working He3-D fusion reactor with what we know right now (assuming we had the He3, which we won't since it appears we're going to give it all to the Chinese); it would just have to be so large (in order to have a sufficiently high Lawson value) that it would be economically unfeasible considering the current price of alternatives. Environmentalists would also probably be annoyed by the ignition mechanism...
But even if that were true (and from an economic standpoint, I will grant you that for the moment it is), that argument would be irrelevant. We didn't have practical gasoline engines a century ago either, but that doesn't make the oil of Saudi Arabia now worth any less. We KNOW that that the Lunar He3 is valuable (or at least, is inevitably going to be valuable), and there isn't any reason why we shouldn't try to claim it, or at the very least keep another nation from monopolizing it.
Unfortunately, the Administration's current policies encourage offshoring of critical R&D functions along with the manufacturing infrastructure.
Yeah, I dropped the "e".
I don't want to get into D-T vs D-He3, since smarter people than me disagree on the subect. But I will say that even large amounts of He3 would not suddenly solve the fusion problem.
We didn't have practical gasoline engines a century ago either, but that doesn't make the oil of Saudi Arabia now worth any less.
Not today, but it did at the time. Given the promises politicians have heard concerning fusion for the last fifty years, it is now just background noise for them.
China's man in space ***As China uses its cheap labor to become the world's manufacturing center, it generates huge amounts of foreign exchange that enable it to finance both military modernization and space adventures. Chinese officials claim the Shenzhou program is "purely for peaceful purposes," but the orbital module already is being used to gather electronic intelligence (ELINT).
The first manned flight is expected to be in space for only 90 minutes. But after separation, the orbital module; with its own propulsion system for autonomous flight; will stay in space for up to eight months. The orbital modules of Shenzhou 3 and 4 had an ELINT capability that included three antennas aimed at Earth to determine the source of ultra-high frequency emissions, plus other antennas designed to detect and locate radar transmissions. The Soviets used similar transmissions to monitor movements of U.S. Navy ships.
It may be true that China's astronauts will not engage in military activities, at least initially, but the orbital module they leave behind is loaded with equipment that will autonomously conduct surveillance from space. Data are downloaded electronically when the spacecraft is over China. The Shenzhou 3 and 4 orbital modules were China's first ELINT satellites. They have enabled Beijing to track U.S. naval movements since March 2002.***
First, China views US intentions in space with great suspicion. Washington's declaration that it intends to maintain overwhelming space superiority above all other nations (and perhaps militarize space in the process) does not sit well with the Chinese.
Second, Beijing perceives the proposed US antimissile defense plan, which will be supported by an array of space systems, as a strategic menace to China. Any conceivable missile defense system would threaten to blunt China's modest arsenal of strategic nuclear weapons and thereby erode its delicate deterrent posture vis-a-vis the United States.
Third, China will increasingly need military space capabilities if it is to improve its ability to coerce Taiwan in a conflict and counter US intervention to defend the island in a future crisis or conflict.
Above all, China enjoys the resources and boasts the political will to invest in space over the long term. As such, even if China does not pose a credible threat to the United States, perceptions that the Chinese may eventually challenge US space supremacy could spur Washington to view Beijing as a future rival in space.
In other words, Chinese apprehensions of US space dominance might easily be reciprocated.***
She is a bright light in the darkness of corrupted power.
Carl Sagan's influence has destroyed the right stuff.
....national, scientific and social goal.
. For all its value as a new addition to the planet's hopes for seeking out new forms of life and expanding the horizons of the known - the Shenzhou program is still quite solidly embedded in the Chinese military system, experts say. Yang was sent off by a military official, and greeted upon return by a military official. Indeed, the Shenzhou V recovery took place on the anniversary of China first successful nuclear weapons test in 1964, a symbol not lost on some Chinese commentators.
In the aftermath of the US led wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the Chinese military has taken note of US satellite systems that coordinate attacks. Sources say it is US satellites that most concern the Chinese. As Johnson-Freese put it in a paper delivered Friday at Harvard, "The Chinese, while advocating a treaty to ban space weapons, have also made no bones about working on anti-satellite technology. Kinetic energy weapons, jammers, parasite satellites that can surreptitiously attach themselves to other satellites, and high-powered ground-based lasers [have] all been on the Chinese menu of options being pursued. The Chinese are also interested in navigation satellites, which can enhance missile targeting capabilities."***
The second military payload flown aboard Shenzhou is an imaging reconnaissance package. This comprises two cameras with an aperture of 500-600 millimeters. According to Mike Wade, curator of Encyclopedia Astronautica, the use of two different cameras indicates a hyper-spectral, multi-resolution, combination mapping/close-look system, giving a ground resolution of as much as 1.6 meters. From this it can be deduced that the military missions of future Chinese manned space flights are likely to be military imaging reconnaissance. If the pattern of earlier Shenzhou flights is followed, crew will be tasked to identify targets in a controlled orbit lasting six to seven days. This coincides with the duration of the next manned flight, which has been planned for six days.
The above capabilities are underscored by the assertions of the People's Daily that the spacecraft can carry out missions of reconnaissance and surveillance better and allow the military to deploy, repair and assemble military satellites that could monitor and control military forces on Earth. This raises the prospects that the future Chinese manned space station, a model of which was shown at Hannover Expo 2000, under Project 921-2, which could be deployed as early as the turn of the decade, will have multiple military missions. A future space station could enable launching and repairing of military satellites, and cue and guide future PLA precision-guided weapons such as terminally guided ballistic missiles and new land attack cruise missiles. China in addition has planned to launch four high-resolution electro-optical satellites and four cloud-penetrating radar satellites by 2006. These satellites will allow twice-daily monitoring of any target on Earth.
Two additional dimensions of the Chinese space and satellite program merit close attention. China's second space priority revolves around developing a solid-fuel, four-stage satellite-launching vehicle (SLV). On September 16, China tested an indigenously developed four-stage, solid-fuel SLV, the Kaitouzhe-1. KT-1 is based on a solid-fuel, long-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile. The SLV program offers both civilian and military benefits in terms of accelerating the pace and capability to launch micro-satellites while reducing the cost of launches. KT-1 can reduce the launch time from days to just 16 hours, much faster than any liquid-fuel rocket. However, the most significant impact of this capability will be the country's ability to build, rapidly deploy and replace small communications, imaging and positioning satellites - vital elements of any modern and technologically advanced military. This technology can also be utilized to launch interceptors in the anticipated path of target satellite by using micro and nano-satellites as effective interceptors.***
What do you mean by that?