Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Range of Reactions to the Chang'e-3 Moon Landing

Will China's Moon landing restart the Space Race, in a good way?

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit hopes so. He writes in USA Today:

    "The 1960s space race between the United States and the old Soviet Union saw rapid progress in space technology. We went from being unable to put people in Earth orbit, to landing men on the moon and returning them safely to earth, repeatedly, in less than a decade. It happened so fast because each nation was afraid the other would get there first.

    "The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, in fact, was basically a deal to throw the contest out. Each nation was more afraid of being beaten than it was, really, anxious to win itself. As soon as the ink on the treaty was dry, space efforts began to dry up, too. That's one reason why no one has had a soft landing on the moon in almost 40 years -- and why it's been 41 years almost to the day since the last man, astronaut Eugene Cernan, stood on the moon.

    "If, like me, you'd like to see a gold rush on the moon -- or, at least, a Helium-3 rush -- then a Chinese claim might be just the thing to get it started."

Read the full column HERE.

Innovations in China's lunar exploration technology

People's Daily Online:

"Chang’e-3 will fill in a blank in lunar research, and our landing technology is superior to that of other countries."

"Yang Yuguang, researcher of the Second Academy of China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation, said: “It is wrong to suggest that China’s lunar exploration technology is no more than imitation. For example, the US and other countries adopted a simple technique for their first soft landing on the moon: the moon probe enters the lunar trajectory, and where the trajectory meets the moon’s surface, the intersection point is the landing point. Applying reverse-thrust to the engine brings the probe down onto the surface. While straightforward, this is very resource-consuming. Our approach has been to circle the moon and then choose a spot to land. We will therefore have a wide range of choices. Finding a perfect landing spot is crucial, because the lunar probe is unmanned and the time at our disposal is very limited. So we employ advanced technology and instruments such as laser, microwave, and gamma shutdown sensors. Generally speaking, our lunar exploration techniques are both economical and reliable."

Read the full editorial, HERE.

China, Iran, and Santa

Tom Rogan, National Review Online

"While we argued over Santa Claus’s color (white, black, or multicolored?), China roved across the moon. Iran sent a monkey into orbit and returned him safely to earth.

"America, we have a problem. To be sure, it’s easy to look and laugh, “You’re 50 years behind us.” Easy, but ill judged. Such a casual understanding neglects the defining truth here. Ultimately, the Santa–space dichotomy isn’t about technological power, it’s about national purpose. We need to grasp that fact. Fast.

"Consider what these space missions actually mean for the Chinese and the Iranians.

"It’s tempting to look at space monkey “Fargam” and see only “cuteness.” For Americans who see space exploration in the imagery of decades of manned missions, Fargam doesn’t appear all that serious. But Fargam is far more than a PR stuntmonkey. He’s a traveling messenger for the Iranian revolution — “there are no limits to our aspiration.” And in this vein of “aspiration,” Fargam carries a broader scientific purpose. By riding a rocket-launched capsule into space and then achieving a controlled reentry, Fargam has helped advance Iran’s weaponized-missile program. According to the Defense Department, Iranian progress with two-stage missile systems suggests that Iran may have the capability to attack the U.S. mainland by 2015. Alongside Iranian delaying tactics over the implementation of the Geneva “six months” deal, Fargam suddenly seems a little less friendly.

"But still we laugh. China’s moon landing also carries a deeper message. While the Chinese government claims that “Jade Rabbit” is a pure servant of exploration, this isn’t about the benefit of humanity. Consider some recent evidence on earth.

"Over the past few weeks, China has injected new tensions into the East China Sea. Whether in attempting to usurp new territory or in physical threats to U.S. Navy vessels, the Chinese have made clear that they intend to reshape the geostrategic balance of the Pacific. Even then, China’s foreign-policy evolution isn’t a local pursuit; it’s in pursuit of a truly global agenda. From the Americas to Africa to the Middle East, the Politburo Standing Committee is determined to dominate international affairs. Thus arrives the true story of Jade Rabbit — as a metaphor in a broader strategic gambit. The Chinese aren’t interested in matching American power. They seek to surpass it, and we obsess about Santa Claus."
Read the full editorial, HERE.

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