China: from emancipation of the mind to rocking it up in space. There’s the bright side. Sputnik had a hand in triggering the rise of the internet. What will this round of the space race yield?
Click here to head to the 64th International Astronautical Congress 2013 online.
For more, see: BBC – China to launch 60sqm space station by 2023
– – –
How long a reach?
The International Astronautical Congress is meeting in Beijing. But what, exactly, does China want from outer space?
Source – Economist, published Sep 28th 2013 |Originally from the Print Edition
THE Soviet Union in 1961. The United States in 1962. China in 2003. It took a long time for a taikonaut to join the list of cosmonauts and astronauts who have gone into orbit around Earth and (in a few cases) ventured beyond that, to the Moon. But China has now arrived as a space power, and one mark of this has been the International Astronautical Federation’s decision to hold its 64th congress in Beijing.
The congress, which is attended by representatives of all the world’s space agencies, from America and Russia to Nigeria and Syria, is a place where eager boffins can discuss everything from the latest in rocket design and the effects of microgravity on the thyroid to how best an asteroid might be mined and how to weld metal for fuel tanks.
All useful stuff, of course. But space travel has never been just about the science. It is also an arm of diplomacy, and so the congress serves too as a place where officials can exchange gossip and announce their plans.
And that was just what Ma Xingrui, the head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and thus, in effect, the congress’s host, did. He confirmed that an unmanned lunar mission, Chang’e 3, will be launched in the first half of December. This means, if all goes well, that before the year is out a Chinese rover will roam the surface of the Moon. It will collect and analyse samples of lunar regolith (the crushed rock on the Moon’s surface that passes for soil there). It will make some ultraviolet observations of stars. And it will serve to remind the world that China intends—or at least says it intends—to send people to the Moon sometime soon as well.
Please click here to read the entire article at the Economist.