Monday, December 9, 2013

It's not bragging if you do it

Chang'e-3 Lander dispatched to the Moon
Climbing high over the central Pacific, a forward camera on the Long March 3B third stage captured the deployment of Chang'e-3 on its 112 hour "Journey to the Moon." Launched after midnight in China, the modified Long March 3B completes its part of the mission minutes later over the International Dateline; confronting sunrise of the previous day. Chang'e-3 and Yutu, its "Jade Rabbit" lunar rover, speed on to intercept a New Moon, into the glare of the Sun [CCTV].
Dwayne Day
The Space Review

Later this week, if all goes according to plan, China will land a robotic spacecraft and rover on the Moon, something that nobody has done in nearly four decades. If the Chinese do what they did for the launch, they will broadcast much of the event live on television and over the Internet. Last week’s launch coverage on government-controlled English language CCTV was remarkable for its openness. Indeed, the coverage was indistinguishable from Western news coverage of a major space event. There was no propagandizing or nationalistic chest-thumping, just a straightforward reporting with lots of information about the mission and what was happening. The event, and its coverage, highlighted the fact that China has an attractive, technically sophisticated scientific space program that could serve international relations purposes. It was a demonstration of what American political scientist Joseph Nye has referred to as “soft power,” the ability to compel or attract nations to do what you want. China’s space program gives them this ability to attract partners. The problem is that some of China’s other activities undercut their attractiveness as a potential partner.

Last Sunday’s CCTV coverage of the Chang’e-3 launch was quite sophisticated. The network had correspondents at the launch site and at the control center. They had a commentator in the studio asking rudimentary questions of an expert during the launch sequence. The questions and the expert’s answers were intended for a general, non-space-savvy audience. They also had animations of the lander and rover, and segments focusing on the development of the spacecraft, including interviews with engineers who had built individual parts. For instance, one young engineer had worked on small electric motors for the spacecraft. He acknowledged that there was nothing very sophisticated or exciting about the motors, but that they were vital to mission success.

Read the full article, HERE.

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