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China's great leap forward: Space
Orlando Sentinel ^ | December 9, 2001 | Michael Cabbage | Sentinel Space Editor

Posted on 12/09/2001 5:37:25 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife

SHANGHAI -- A well-known Chinese proverb says a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

That first step isn't far away, as China begins a much longer odyssey that could reshape the Space Age balance of power.

Within the next two years, China is expected to become the first country to launch people into orbit since the United States and the former Soviet Union did so more than four decades ago. This effort, cryptically dubbed Project 921, has been cloaked in state-imposed secrecy from the start.

While low Earth orbit is the immediate destination, the ultimate goal of China's communist leaders is a place near the pinnacle of global economic and military power. The world's most populous country is spending billions on its fledgling human spaceflight program. The hope is to spark a technological revolution that could help catapult a largely agrarian impoverished society into the 21st century.

"The space industry is not only a reflection of the comprehensive national strength but also an important tool for leaping over the traditional developing stage," said Liu Jibin, minister of China's Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

If China makes that leap, the country's civil and military space efforts could close the gap between East and West in years instead of decades. Technology is critical to China's development of bigger, better missiles and space-based defenses as well as the country's commercial ambitions. Market reforms and cheap labor already are turning a once-stagnant, planned economy into a powerhouse.

Signs of the transformation can be seen everywhere in China's cities. Bumper-to-bumper car traffic has replaced bicycle gridlock. McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken are almost as common as traditional roadside food stalls. Chairman Mao's wardrobe has been mothballed in favor of Western fashions. Handbills and posters are more likely to tout the qualities of European cigarettes than the virtues of class struggle.

One thing, however, hasn't changed: Most of China's space program remains closed to the outside world. Even so, a few Chinese officials are cautiously -- almost reluctantly -- beginning to open up.

A two-week tour of Chinese aerospace facilities this fall and talks with high-level managers, many of whom have been off-limits to Americans, revealed this about the country's mysterious manned program:

China likely will launch its first astronaut sometime in 2003 after six or so unpiloted test flights of its manned spacecraft. The next test flight -- the third overall -- is expected to blast off before the end of January.

Preliminary design of a Chinese space station already is under way. A modest outpost with limited capabilities could be developed during the next decade.

And there's even talk of sending people to the moon and building lunar bases in the next decade. But that won't happen without stunning technological advances and unprecedented funding. Neither is likely any time soon.

In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel and Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine -- his first ever with Western journalists -- administrator Luan Enjie of the China National Space Administration says China's leadership is proceeding slowly but surely.

"China's situation only allows us to take the first step, then to look for the next step," said Luan, who also is a member of the country's governing Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. "As the administrator, I can look very far. But those are unreliable and unrealistic goals we could not identify or define at this stage. So we have to take a step-by-step approach."

Still secret

Some of China's best and brightest are working on those steps in a gleaming office tower in one of Shanghai's sprawling industrial districts. A massive flying saucer reminiscent of 1950s Hollywood B-movie fare guards the main entrance and provides the only clue to the sort of activities inside.

This morning, two American reporters are touring the once-secret facility, one of dozens that make up the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology. Engineers in this office help design the inside cabin of China's spaceships -- dubbed Shenzhou or magic vessel by President Jiang Zemin -- as well as the rocket engines.

While managers are tightlipped about China's space ambitions, the building speaks volumes. Above the door to a cavernous exhibition hall is a picture of a space shuttle with a Chinese flag emblazoned on its tail. It's docked to a space station.

"It's just a picture," explains engineer Chen Xing Quan, the facility's vice director. "Sorry, no photos."

Pictures of Chinese leaders celebrating past space triumphs hang in one corner. Nearby is a full-scale mockup of the Shenzhou ship that will carry the first Chinese astronauts, called yuhangyuans (pronounced YOO-hong-wans). Communist Party luminaries are allowed inside for a quick simulation of the ride to orbit, but not Western journalists.

Today, the simulator is "out of order." It's not possible to take a peek inside either. The key is lost, Chen explains.

No one seems to know anything about a large, meticulously built model of China's Jiuquan launch site -- the spaceport from which humans will blast off -- that sits next to the Shenzhou mockup. The top-secret facility was built 45 years ago in northwestern China's desolate Gobi Desert, miles from the nearest civilization. A model of the blue-hued building where Jiuquan's rockets are erected appears to be virtually a carbon copy of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.

Finally, as the journalists leave, they ask to buy one of the many Shenzhou models and picture books on display at the entrance. They aren't for sale, Chen says. He's not sure why the items all have price tags.

When pressed, he finally concedes the obvious:

"Much of our program is public in China, but some of the parts that aren't so mature we don't like to talk about."

Rocket man

China's obsession with secrecy is nothing new. Neither is Chinese rocket-building, which began here more than 1,000 years ago.

Chinese inventor Wan Hu made the world's first documented, albeit ill-advised, attempt at human spaceflight in the 16th century. Wan strapped 47 rockets to a specially designed chair for his planned voyage skyward. Two kites were attached to keep him airborne.

History records that Wan vanished in a cataclysmic eruption of smoke and fire never to be seen again. He lives on, however, as a folk hero in China. A crater on the moon is named after him. Murals and displays depicting his flight adorn space facilities throughout the country.

China began to develop more sophisticated plans for human spaceflight in the 1960s. A top-secret research center designed to study the effects of space travel on humans was set up in 1968. Seven years later, China demonstrated a technology that is key to returning people from space by successfully launching and recovering a reconnaissance satellite on its first attempt. It took the United States several tries to accomplish the same feat.

The existence of a manned program wasn't publicly acknowledged until a 1978 article appeared in a Chinese technical journal. The state-run media in 1980 published mysterious photos of astronauts wearing spacesuits and training in the cockpit of a spacecraft simulator. Several months later, however, a high-ranking space official suddenly announced the manned program had been suspended for lack of money. All mention of the project vanished.

China had opportunities to hitch a ride to orbit with other space-faring countries in the 1980s. President Reagan offered a place on the shuttle in 1984. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev similarly proposed a trip to the space station Mir. Neither mission materialized.

Sporadic reports continued to surface in the Chinese press of secret shuttle and space-station programs. Finally, in 1992, China officially announced its intention to build a manned program by the turn of the century.

Help came from Russia. In 1995, four years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Chinese space officials visited Moscow for the first time since their once-close collaboration ended in 1960. The Chinese arrived with a shopping list and bought Russian hardware to guide their own development work: rocket engines, a spacesuit, a life-support unit and a docking system.

The next year, two Chinese began a year of cosmonaut training in Star City, Russia. Analysts speculate they will help prepare China's first class of yuhangyuans. Sino-Russian space ties continue to grow.

"After the reform movement in China and the collapse of the former Soviet Union, relations between China and Russia improved substantially," Luan said. "We now have a mechanism between the China National Space Administration and the Russian Space Agency to meet each other and hold discussions on a variety of subjects."

First launch

China took its first major step toward putting people in space on Nov. 19, 1999, when Shenzhou 1 lifted off from Jiuquan atop a 20-story Long March 2F rocket. The unmanned test ship successfully parachuted down in Mongolia 21 hours and 14 orbits later, returning a dummy astronaut and plant specimens safe and sound.

The Shenzhou ship was a slightly larger version of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Shenzhou consists of three main parts: a propulsion-generating module, a descent module in which the crew rides during launch and landing, and an orbital module in which astronauts work and do experiments. Like the Soyuz, Shenzhou has a crew capacity of at least three. Unlike the Soyuz, Shenzhou is equipped with two sets of solar arrays that generate power.

Almost 14 months passed before the second unmanned test flight last January. Shenzhou 2 blasted off with a crew of a monkey, a dog, a rabbit and snails on a six-day, 108-orbit mission. This time, the spacecraft carried out complex experiments and maneuvered to change its orbit and altitude -- a major step forward.

Preparations for a third unmanned Shenzhou mission are continuing in secrecy. It's expected by the end of January. China currently can launch the flights only during autumn and winter.

Unlike the United States, which has tracking and communication ground stations scattered around the world, China has only those within its boundaries and a handful of others in Namibia, Pakistan and on the Pacific island chain of Tarawa. That means China must deploy four Yuanwang (Long View) tracking ships in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans before every Shenzhou launch. Seas are too rough at the ships' southern positions, however, during spring and summer.

The Chinese have made it clear they plan to meticulously test Shenzhou and its modified Long March booster before the first yuhangyuan sets foot onboard.

"We need ample time and plenty of testing to prove reliability before we can really send a man into space," Luan said. "We have to be 100 percent sure that everything is reliable."

There's no shortage of candidates to take the first ride. A Chinese astronaut corps is thought to be training at a new military-run campus northwest of Beijing near a rural area that once was the summer palace for China's emperors. The complex of modern buildings resembles a compact version of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"We select our Chinese astronauts from the air force," Luan said through an official interpreter. "They are mostly fighter pilots about my height, about 1.7 meters [5 feet 7 inches]."

"I do not have the exact number, but roughly, there are about a dozen. Who is going to be the first has not been decided yet. Everybody wants to be the first one to launch."

What next?

After several successful manned flights, what next? A five-year plan released by the Chinese government last November offers little in the way of specifics. The truth is the Chinese probably aren't sure themselves.

Any serious operations in orbit require basic skills such as rendezvousing and docking spacecraft, as well as the ability to perform spacewalks. NASA practiced these skills during the Gemini program in the mid-1960s before moving on to bigger things. China almost certainly will attempt to master them as well.

"We are interested in doing rendezvousing. It is our next step," said He Ling Shu, a professor at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. "The details we don't know. That will be decided by the government. But it's not far away."

Dreams of a shuttlelike space plane are unlikely to be realized in the foreseeable future because of the considerable economic and engineering leaps involved. A trip to the moon faces similar obstacles. Nevertheless, the official Xinhua News Agency reported an ambitious time table in October 2000 that would put Chinese astronauts on the moon by 2005. A lunar station would be built by 2010 with completion of a permanent self-sustaining moon base by 2020.

Analysts contend that schedule is little more than wishful thinking.

"No way," said Charles Vick, a China space expert with the Federation of American Scientists in Washington. "They don't have the launch vehicles developed to do that. They haven't even done orbital rendezvous and assembly."

A modest space station is the most likely short-term goal.

Chinese astronauts could mate a pair of Shenzhou orbital modules to form a small, makeshift station. Such a station could be a platform for scientific as well as military reconnaissance missions. Cost and technology would not be prohibitive.

There's also another possibility. China has been quietly lobbying for years to participate in the international space station project. The European Space Agency and Russia have warmed to the idea, but the U.S. response has been chilly because of opposition in Congress. However, the project's dire financial straits could change the minds of some lawmakers concerned about Chinese missile proliferation and possible transfer of technology.

"This is a very political issue for the U.S. Congress," Vick said. "Foreign-policy issues remain to be resolved before the Chinese will be allowed to fully join the ISS [international space station] partnership."

Chinese officials say they would welcome the opportunity to learn more about the program.

"Without China participating in the international space station, it is not a true international program," Luan said. "We need to have a better understanding of the ISS -- especially the current status, the future development and the next step -- before we could decide whether to participate. But we are certainly interested."

Show me the money

Ultimately, money -- not technology or politics -- may prove the biggest obstacle in China's way. For now, civilian space funding during the current five-year plan is double the previous plan. Much of the space program's cost -- especially for the manned program -- is picked up by the military. But there are other space priorities that need money, too. They include:

A constellation of Earth-monitoring satellites. A space-based telescope to observe the sun. A joint project with the European Space Agency to launch a pair of satellites to study Earth's magnetic field. Development of new boosters and rocket engines that don't use toxic fuels.

Estimates of annual space spending in China range from $1.5 billion to $3 billion, a huge amount for a developing country. That doesn't include all of the costs related to the country's massive infrastructure buildup. In comparison, estimates of Russia's 2001 space budget range from $100 million to $150 million. NASA's 2002 budget of $14.8 billion dwarfs both.

China's leadership appears fully behind the manned program -- for now. Books, television shows, posters and commemorative stamps have helped drum up genuine excitement among the public, reminiscent of the early days of U.S. space efforts. But China's political winds have inexplicably shifted in the past with little or no warning.

"I think it's a given the first Chinese astronaut will make it into space in the next couple of years," said Kurt Tong, the environment, science and technology counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. "Beyond that, I'm sure there are lots of plans out there. But these plans have been created by the space guys. Long-term plans probably haven't been fleshed out or signed off on by the leadership yet."

Many Western observers have wondered aloud how China expects to recoup its investment in the manned spaceflight program. The answer probably has less to do with actually putting people in space than associated rewards they expect to reap. Chinese leaders hope the effort will lead to general advances in manufacturing, computers and materials science, as well as specific breakthroughs in commercial and military space technologies.

"We are trying our best to transfer space applications to the commercial market," engineer Chen said. "We have lots of overlap between the military and commercial programs."

Other, less intangible, benefits of a Chinese manned program can't be underestimated. Beijing longs to take on more of a global leadership role. And high-profile successes in orbit certainly never hurt the standing of political leaders here on Earth.

"A lot of the manned program comes down to prestige," counselor Tong said. "It gives them a national spirit builder, a little like the [2008 Beijing] Olympics. They don't have opinion polls here, but if they did, there would be a jump for China's leaders on the day the first Chinese astronaut goes into space."

Michael Cabbage can be reached at mcabbage@orlandosentinel.com or 321-639-0522. Copyright © 2001, Orlando Sentinel

Space Editor Michael Cabbage spent two weeks in China in mid-September researching this series on the country's growing space program and its likely impact on the United States. During that trip, he became one of the first two Western reporters to interview the head of the China National Space Administration. He also was one of the first U.S. journalists to visit some of China's aerospace facilities in Beijing and Shanghai. Cabbage has covered space since 1994. He joined the Sentinel's staff in 1998.

2nd test flight. (CHINA ACADEMY OF LAUNCH VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY) Dec 8, 2001

After 21 hours, 14 orbits. (PEOPLE'S DAILY) Dec 8, 2001

Chinese space milestones (ORLANDO SENTINEL/ December 8, 2001

China's launch sites. (ANITA J. JONES/ORLANDO SENTINEL) Dec 8, 2001

China steps closer to putting a human in space. (ORLANDO SENTINEL) Dec 8, 2001

Copyright © 2001, Orlando Sentinel


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS:
"We are trying our best to transfer space applications to the commercial market," engineer Chen said. "We have lots of overlap between the military and commercial programs."

It's one and the same.

1 posted on 12/09/2001 5:37:26 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Good luck eating rice with chop sticks at zero gravity.
2 posted on 12/09/2001 5:40:02 AM PST by BrooklynGOP
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
It's one and the same.

Not quite the same. Military programs do not have to show or produce a profit. Commercial ones do.

3 posted on 12/09/2001 5:40:53 AM PST by RadioAstronomer
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
We also better not be left behind in this endeavor!!
4 posted on 12/09/2001 5:41:45 AM PST by RadioAstronomer
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To: RadioAstronomer
Money goes a lot farther in China where they pay slave wages, if that, and where they aren't supporting ten Centers.
5 posted on 12/09/2001 5:52:37 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
A little competition for a change might be just the tonic for NASA. Would be kind of embarrassing for the Chinese to develop resources on the long-ignored Moon before the US does.

If this doesn't wake NASA up, maybe nothing ever will.

6 posted on 12/09/2001 5:54:11 AM PST by KellyAdmirer
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To: BrooklynGOP
We'll all be eating with chopsticks if the Chinese get a base on the Moon.
7 posted on 12/09/2001 5:54:48 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: KellyAdmirer
If this doesn't wake NASA up, maybe nothing ever will.

Senator Nelson of Fla. brought up the subject of China at a space, commerce and transportation hearing with Sean O'Keefe on Friday. O'Keefe was very mum on the subject. I hope Bush and the military have plans for our homeland security as it pertains to China's designs on space dominance.

8 posted on 12/09/2001 5:58:19 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
I don't think we will sit idly by and let them go to the moon without a challenge. Unfortunately they will be ready to set up a moon base and we will suddenly discover the national will to go back there. Their plan will be a deliberate,long range one culminating in a moon base that won't be abandoned. Our plan will be thrown together in the last seconds. We will throw some hardware on the surface in a rush and declare victory. After about 3-4 years of lunar base operation we will abandon it because it will be too expensive and there will be no political will to continue. The Chinese will stay and expand their base. We will live under a Chinese moon.
9 posted on 12/09/2001 6:00:20 AM PST by Brett66
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To: Brett66
I hope there are some clear heads working behind the scenes on our interests.

U.S Air Force and NASA Work Closer on Strategic Space Control-- The shift toward greater emphasis on space for national security needs is being led by Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Prior to being appointed to his post by President Bush, Rumsfeld led a national commission on use of space for national security needs. (More LINKS at this one.)

(Oct. 10, 2001)China Plans to Send Probe to Moon--[Excerpt]…….few details are available of new developments in the military-linked program. ……….China's communist government has poured huge resources into making the nation a force in space. In addition to its scientific benefits, lunar exploration has an ``immeasurable usefulness to raising national prestige and inspiring the nationalistic spirit,'' Xinhua said. [End Excerpt]

10 posted on 12/09/2001 6:03:28 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: KellyAdmirer
What resources on the moon are you talking about? What's the cost-benefit equation look like for mining and transporting those resources back to Earth? I don't think we have found gold or uranium up there.
11 posted on 12/09/2001 6:05:29 AM PST by jhofmann
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To: Brett66
This while going to the moon thing by China is a propaganda ploy. Their goal is to make sure that they are ready to deploy weapons in space to attack our intelligence, surveillance and recon assets and advance their ICBM capabilities. What exactly is on the moon besides the American flag and our footprings that we should feel threatened by China going up there?
12 posted on 12/09/2001 6:07:56 AM PST by jhofmann
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To: jhofmann
There's nothing on the moon... yet. The Chinese appear to be willing to set up extended operations there. If mining/manufacturing facilities can be set up there, and there is no reason to believe this isn't in their long range
plans, then they can build assets there with military utility. They could decide to build a small mass driver that
could hurl payloads to Earth. If we don't do our homework, there will be nothing we can do to defend against
this. It would be as bad as having a fire breathing dragon fluing over our heads. ;)
14 posted on 12/09/2001 6:37:22 AM PST by Brett66
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To: Brett66
fluing=flying
15 posted on 12/09/2001 6:38:07 AM PST by Brett66
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To: jhofmann
I don't think we have found gold or uranium up there.

There are things with far more value. Try this one on for size. Easy access to those commmunication satellites for repair, maintence and protection. Who do you want at that helm?

16 posted on 12/09/2001 6:40:09 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: jhofmann
Thanks for giving exactly the sort of reply I would anticipate from NASA itself. "No gold or uranium." That's just fabulous. Maybe you work for NASA? Or head their development office?

The Moon has a high concentration of rare metals like Titanium. It also has abundant amounts of Silicon and Oxygen. These factors alone make the Moon - eventually, to whoever bothers to develop it - a storehouse of useful materials.

The moon has something else pretty darn valuable in space. It has GRAVITY. Point out somewhere else outside the Earth within a few day's journey with that. It looks increasingly like weightlessness is bad for human physiology. It may be just 1/8 that of earth, but that may be sufficient. There may even be some water there, trapped in rocks or under the surface. If so, that would be an invaluable discovery.

Ignoring the place isn't going to advance our knowledge of it. It is also a stable platform with defensive capabilities, which has both civil and military potential. We may not choose to view it that way, so I suppose the Chinese won't, either?

No, the Moon does not have gold or uranium. It does not have any jewels or bank cd's, either.

Thanks again for the chuckle!

17 posted on 12/09/2001 6:44:27 AM PST by KellyAdmirer
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To: alien2
Sean O'Keefe, the "for certain" new administrator at NASA said he wants the old style NASA linear thinking to be replaced with leap-ahead technology pursuits.
18 posted on 12/09/2001 6:44:58 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The chinese got their space ability from White Trash Scumbag Clinton who sold it to them for campaign donations and direct deposits to his Swiss Bank accounts.
19 posted on 12/09/2001 6:46:50 AM PST by Texbob
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
NASA has been focused on going to Mars the last few years. If we see the Chinese making strides in getting humans to the moon, I wonder if we'll decide to refocus on the moon once we finish construction on the ISS. It's possible that China's interest in the moon will way heavily on the minds of the President once the ISS is built. IMHO this is very good news. Going to Mars before we even establish an infrastructure in cis-Lunar space is putting the cart before the horse.
20 posted on 12/09/2001 6:54:02 AM PST by Brett66
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To: jhofmann; KellyAdmirer
What resources on the moon are you talking about? What's the cost-benefit equation look like for mining and transporting those resources back to Earth? I don't think we have found gold or uranium up there.

Actually, we have all the uranium we could ever possibly need (it's easily recyclable from existing stocks) and gold is an inert metal, useful as an electrical conductor, but not all that rare on Earth, at least for any useful purpose (I omit its role as a monetary standard, essentially an obsolete usage since early in the last century).

The fallacy in your argument is your assumption that for something to be valuable, we have to import it back to Earth. The key value of lunar resources is their location; they are already in Earth orbit -- on the Moon. As it costs thousands of dollars to launch materials into space from Earth's surface, something already in Earth orbit has intrinsic value merely by virtue of its already being in orbit.

Specifically, what's really valuable on the Moon is the recently discovered water ice deposits in the shadowed areas near the poles of the Moon. Water is much more valuable than its obvious role as something to drink; it is (literally) rocket propellant -- you break down the water molecule into its component hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis, freeze both into their liquid form, and use it to fuel the rocket engines of an Earth-Moon space transportation infrastructure. If you can routinely operate between Earth and Moon, you can also access any orbit in between, including the economically important geosynchronous orbits and the strategically important high-apogee orbits used by our national security apparatus to electronically eavesdrop on our enemies and potential enemies. The ability to easily and routinely move throughout Earth-Moon space is a technical capability worth billions of dollars both to our economy and to our national security.

Right now, no one owns this lunar resource. The USA discovered it, but the first one to get there and start processing it, "owns" it. It ought to be us, not the Chinese.

21 posted on 12/09/2001 7:13:20 AM PST by Cincinatus
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Comment #22 Removed by Moderator

To: Texbob
Loral and Clinton sold our edge, our tax-paid-for R&D and along with it our national security.
They gave (sold) the Chinese the ability to achieve this "great leap forward: Space."
23 posted on 12/09/2001 7:17:46 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Brett66
IMHO this is very good news. Going to Mars before we even establish an infrastructure in cis-Lunar space is putting the cart before the horse.

Yes the search for life isn't a mission, it's a prescription for being cut off at the knees.
The Chinese may be giving us the kick in the butt that we need
Cis-Lunar must be the next step. Maybe the Sagan fog is finally lifting.

24 posted on 12/09/2001 7:21:35 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Not to downplay all the technical challenges, but the key milestones on the road to manned spaceflight are the lift capacity and reliability of the launch vehicle. The Long March Rocket is more than adequate to the task of putting a Mercury-class space capsule into orbit.

All they need now is a pressurized metal ball with maneuvering jets, an ablative shell, and a parachute. If they're spending $3 billion a year, it won't take long to get there.

26 posted on 12/09/2001 7:59:07 AM PST by JoeSchem
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Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

To: Cincinatus
"The key value of lunar resources is their location; they are already in Earth orbit "
Yep:
The present cost of putting aything in LEO is about $10k per kilo ( or pound- I've seen both figures used).
The cost of gold is about $10k per kilo.
Anything wanted in LEO is worth it's weight in gold.

Another under-acknowledged benefit of the moon is that a radiation safe environment can be created by covering a hole or digging a cave.
That's much cheaper than constructing an entire space habitat- which has to be abandoned during periods of high solar activity anyway.


Moon production of oxygen, simple aluminum products, glass, and food are early lo-tech possibilities.
Lack of hydrogen is the moon's killer drawback- it's value for fuel is so high it would be worth mining for, or even producing it by nuclear processes.

And if moon-supplied raw materials prices are lower by a factor of ten (a hundred even?) or more than Earth materials, space-based manufacturing will be no longer a fantastically expensive niche industry but would have mass-production possibilities.

Heck, the control of lunar-supplied materials would make a moon base so valuable, it's biggest expense could be militarily defending it against competitors!

29 posted on 12/09/2001 8:40:46 AM PST by mrsmith
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To: nuclear_spy
You broker no argument from me regarding military control of our space agencies. We already have Space command and after the USAF gives up its TACAIR mission to robots, I suppose they will be looking for something else to do.
31 posted on 12/09/2001 1:11:12 PM PST by jhofmann
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To: Brett66
A small mass driver that can hurl payloads to earth. I'll trade one ICBM for a "small mass driver". Please keep my tax dollars out of your schemes of glory.
32 posted on 12/09/2001 1:12:46 PM PST by jhofmann
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To: KellyAdmirer
What a very rude and arrogant reply. Your post, presented as fact, is merely supposition. A venture to the moon such as you describe would be fraught with risk and be a huge investment of tax dollars. You take this propaganda from the Chinese who appear to be positioning themselves for war in space (that is he who shoots out the satellites first, wins the first salvo). I'd rather spend my money taking out their capabilities than risk it all on some moon folly.
33 posted on 12/09/2001 1:16:03 PM PST by jhofmann
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To: jhofmann
I was talking about China owning the mass driver and your ICBM could be intercepted by a missile defense system. However, a mass hurtling in from space at much higher velocity than an ICBM could not be intercepted by a missile defense system that isn't designed to handle such targets.
34 posted on 12/09/2001 1:28:07 PM PST by Brett66
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To: alien2
#18 I meant to ask you what do you think that means, "leap-ahead technology pursuits."???

I believe O'Keefe was talking about major breakthroughs, things that aren't out-dated before they fly. (I want to see that!) And he said he didn't want (my wording here) good money going after bad just because it was budgeted. He said that NASA needs to recognize and admit when something is a bad idea or program, then cut their loses and move on to a more productive one.

I think he is going to be a breath of fresh air.

35 posted on 12/09/2001 1:55:43 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: JoeSchem
Let's roll, (blast off)!
36 posted on 12/09/2001 1:57:59 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The most astonishing findings of our space programs are presently being covered up and denied for ideological reasons; if NASA keeps its head in the sand for another five years, there is a real possibility that the Japanese or Chinese might get to Cydonia before we do.

The Viking probe of 1976 sent back images of a region of Mars called Cydonia, which included the familiar "Face on Mars" as well as images of pyramids and other seemingly artificial structures, all megalithic in nature and apparently intended to be seen from off-planet.

These images also included a gigantic and seemingly five-sided pyramid:

Images returned from the global surveilance device in orbit around Mars the last several years have included an image of the main pyramid in the ring of pyramids to the left of the face which should have immediately ended all controversy over the question of artificiality:

To me at least, the pyramid is four sided and the four triangular sides are clear enough, and I've marked them with green lines. The other part of the image which I believe I'm seeing amounts to some sort of an enclosed corridor or causeway leading out from one corner of the pyramid, and then two funny and nearly rectangular features at the end of that causeway or whatever it is, which may be doors or some sort of adjunct buildings or something. There also seems to be a line going from the Eastern corner of the pyramid to the two doors or whatever, which I've marked with a blue line, but I suspect that's just an edge of sand being blown up into a sort of an apron abutting the pyramid, and that the hollow between the pyramid and the corridor would naturally trap sand. In particular, if you didn't look at the whole thing closely enough, the line (blue) from the Eastern corner to the two doors might cause you to think that the whole structure was irregular enough to be a natural formation but, again, a closer look seems to me to forbid that.

Nonetheless, there was little or no mention whatsoever in the press of this new pyramid image, and this was largely because press coverage centered around the new image of the face which NASA released:

This image was said to prove the entire controversy regarding Cydonia to be a bunch of buncombe, and to prove that the structures at Cydonia all to be natural geological formations.

More recently, Dr. Tom Van Flandern, a former director of celestial mechanics at the Naval Abservatory, and others have noted that the image which NASA and JPL released, aside from being a worst possible case in terms of viewing angle and lighting, had actually been "cleaned up" or something like that via the use of a high-pass filter which is a standard image processing device for removing detail. Van Flandern notes that the basic help function for Adobe's Photo Shop product notes:

High Pass Filter: Retains edge details where sharp color transitions occur and suppresses the rest of the image. The filter removes low-frequency detail in an image. Useful for extracting line-art and large black-and-white areas from scanned images.

Van Flandern notes that, as to JPL's motives in using such a filter device on this particular image and then handing it to the public, "we are left with an unhappy choice between dishonesty and incompetence."

When we consider that the raw image looks like:

and that the same image with minimal computer enhancement, which does not add any information looks like:


All of that is bad enough, i.e. it might convince people that NASA and JPL told a big, stupid lie to the American people and to the world. But it's getting worse; consider the new and more direct overhead image of the face which NASA released during May of 2001.

Click Image Above for Full Size NASA Images

Several things are clear. First and most obvious is that anybody still trying to claim that this thing is a mesa or any other kind of natural formation is dillusional. I notice several things, which I have indicated in the marked-up image below

First is that there is only one possible way to build such a thing, i.e. to pile up stones into the rough shape you need, large stones on the bottom and then progressively smaller ones, and then put some sort of a hard facing over the entire thing. You can see how this has been done in the image. On the left side from which wind and sand come, the facing is almost entirely eroded and, even where the underlying stone shows, everything has been worn smooth. On the right side, we can see that part of the facing remains, much of it having fallen off to the side in heaps. We can see the cutout in the facing for the left eye which I have noted, and we can see where the facing fell and broke away from the nose, which is what you would expect. We can also see the rough stones of the nose area, which have not all been worn smooth.

Second is that the megalith is heavily damaged, and has suffered more than one kind of damage. My guess is that the entire rock plate on which the megalith sits was picked up and slammed down, and that the megalith was deformed in the process. You can see the places where the hard casement has been pulled apart on the right side. The megalith has been compressed along the axis from lower left to upper right which I have marked with the blue line, and stretched along the other axis from lower right to upper left. The angle A between the line of the headdress on the left side and the line along the top is thus less than the original 90 degrees. The line through the center of the face has been deformed from the original straight line to the curved line which I have drawn. The basic shape of the mouth is still there, albeit moved to the left as I have noted. You can see where the outer casing has broken away from part of the outline of the mouth on the right.

You can see the ridge along the eyebrows as I have noted, you can see the indentation for the right eye and the outline of the left eye cut into the facing and still in reasonably good shape. You can see the rise for the nose as well as the area where the casing broke away from the nose on the right, and part of the remains of nostrils, and you can see the basic lines of the mouth.

Unless of course you're STUPID like the feebs at NASA who're still working triple shifts trying to convince the world this thing is a mesa. In that kind of case, no amount of technology will help. There has never been a cure for stupidity, and there will never be one.

A short while ago, Dr. Van Flandern and other associates gave a presentation at the National Press Club which may be viewed at Metaresearch.

Information has been coming in for two or three years now from the device presently over Mars. Massive evidence of Mars having been inhabited fairly recently has been accumulating. As Metaresearch and other www sites dealing with the subject note, this includes evidence of settlements:

Click on image for full NASA image. Note the terracing, and the rows of structures which are heavily weathered to the upper right of the image but which retain their rectangular corners on the lower left (leeward) side.

Other human faces have been found carved in the surface, e.g.:

Numerous other things intended to be viewed from off-planet have been documented at Metaresearch, Cydonia Files, and other sites.

What then drives the basic instinct of NASA and JPL to bury this story? One possible motive which has been suggested involves the division of funding between manned and unmanned space missions at NASA and JPL. But, more realistically, the major problem which the Cydonia findings presents to the people in these agencies is one of basic scientific paradigms. Nobody could build all of this stuff on this kind of a megalithic scale with space-suits on; the planet has to be habitable for Cydonia to get built. This is a huge problem, in that it would require a totally different basic theory of the history of our solar system from the one which the scientists have. There is simply no way, given the standard paradigm, in which Mars could have ever been habitable. It would always have been too cold, and it would never have had the gravity necessary to hold a livable atmosphere, assuming that gravity is the only thing which ever holds atmosphere to planets.

The standard scientific axiomatic scheme including the basic doctrine of uniformitarianism, evolution etc. etc. does not allow for solar-system-wide catastrophes within the age of man, nonetheless, that is precisely what we have here. Those newer face images are definitely modern people and not early hominids. Nothing involving modern people here, on Mars, or anywhere else figures to be millions of years gone by, and nothing capable of destroying the planet next to us and making a dead world of it would have gone unnoticed by our ancestors.

What we have here is another case of junk science, i.e. the theory of evolution and the doctrine of uniformity, destroying research and logical thinking amongst scientists. The science pages of our journals are filled by descriptions of NASA projects to search for microbes on Mars while studiously ignoring major evidence that they have found a city there, as if germs were important, and cities were not.

37 posted on 12/09/2001 2:07:53 PM PST by medved
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To: medved
Good grief!! You believe this crack-pot stuff?
38 posted on 12/09/2001 2:17:55 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: alien2
Can a spacecraft leave the planet (much less do what you've mentioned) without scientific ambition behind it? To study and master science requires a lot of work. Are "America's" (actually they're the government's) schools fostering the skills needed?

I don't disagree with your distainful analysis of the American educational system, but it's irrelevant. We didn't go to the Moon in the 60's because all Americans turned into engineers and scientists -- we had a small, carefully nurtured, jazzed-up group of dedicated, smart-as-hell diehards who worked 20 hour days, 7 days a week for years to make it happen. There were just as many nitwits and lunkheads 40 years ago as there are today. They didn't stop us before and they won't stop us now.

39 posted on 12/09/2001 2:31:44 PM PST by Cincinatus
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To: mrsmith
Lack of hydrogen is the moon's killer drawback

The Moon has hydrogen. It just happens to occur only in a very specialized environment: the permanently dark areas near the poles. The Clementine and Lunar Prospector data indicate at least ~ 10 billion metric tons of water ice, at both poles. That's an equivalent amount of rocket fuel for roughly four million Shuttle launches, or, one Shuttle launch per minute for over seven and one-half years!!

Oh, by the way, a Shuttle launch is way too much power for a lunar liftoff -- I just gave those numbers for comparative purposes. The point is there's plenty of hydrogen on the Moon. You just have to go get it where it is, just like petroleum on Earth.

40 posted on 12/09/2001 2:41:24 PM PST by Cincinatus
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To: medved
What we have here is another case of junk science

No kidding.

41 posted on 12/09/2001 2:43:41 PM PST by Cincinatus
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Yes.
42 posted on 12/09/2001 2:50:12 PM PST by medved
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Comment #43 Removed by Moderator

To: Cincinatus' Wife
China's great leap forward: American Liberals.
44 posted on 12/09/2001 3:33:04 PM PST by VaBthang4
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To: nuclear_spy
On this note I completely disagree with you. I was at JPL "flying" interplanetary missions from the control room and I for one was glad it was an open civilian endeavor. There needs to be a demarcation line between "commercial/NASA" space and the "military" space programs. BTW, I was in U.S. Space Command for 7 years also.
45 posted on 12/09/2001 4:21:11 PM PST by RadioAstronomer
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To: medved

Holy cow! The Martians built a monument to the dog faced boy? That is sinister!

46 posted on 12/09/2001 5:56:06 PM PST by Brett66
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To: Brett66
Those are actual NASA photos and if you look hard enough on NASA's own www sites, you'll find them.
47 posted on 12/09/2001 6:40:16 PM PST by medved
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To: VaBthang4
China's great leap forward: American Liberals.

Check out Michael Cabbage's story in the Orlando Sentinel today!-- CHINA'S NEW FRONTIER China finds launches lucrative--[Excerpt] There also were accusations -- adamantly denied -- that Loral's chairman influenced a Clinton administration licensing decision with a hefty donation to the Democratic National Committee. License approval eventually was shifted from the Commerce Department to the more restrictive State Department.

The Clinton White House announced in November 2000 that it would resume processing export licenses and extend China's launch privileges through 2001 after Beijing agreed to a missile nonproliferation pact. But the Bush administration says outstanding issues remain in implementing the nonproliferation agreement. New satellite export licenses remain on hold. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and three other lawmakers urged President Bush in July not to resume licensing under any condition. [End Excerpt]

48 posted on 12/10/2001 1:06:49 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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