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They Finally Did It

Well, the Chinese have finally done the man in space thing. Congratulations to them on a successful flight.

My take on the whole “new space race” issue is that this development isn’t likely to have any direct impact on NASA’s goals or activities. No one mentioned it at work today (other than myself), so it clearly wasn’t of much concern. Nor should it be, right now, as they have a lot of catching up to do to really be a rival — though given the fact that they can learn from the mistakes that we and the Soviets/Russians made over the years, they will probably catch up with us in a much shorter time than it took us to get to where we are (if such is their goal).

What remains to be seen, however, is whether this will spawn a space race between China, Japan, and India. Some news articles I read at lunch today indicated a degree of concern over China’s flight among the Indians and Japanese, and in the case of Japan the worries centered on national prestige — some saw it as “backward and poor” China showing up the Japanese by doing something their once-powerful but deteriorating economy cannot support.

It ought to be interesting to see what comes of this, if anything.

2 comments to They Finally Did It

  • Carl Carlsson

    Congratulations to the Chinese. I think this will ultimately be a good thing. I don’t see anything like a 1960’s space race, but rather a gentle nudge to remind us that we can’t rest on our laurels. At least I hope so. If it is a race, it will certainly be much less aggressive than what we saw 30+ years ago, and maybe that will make it less liekly that we end up with only flags and footprints.

  • Eric S.

    Hmmm… the Shenzhou would appear to be more capable than the Soyuz TMs, so once they build a track record, I’d say the Chinese could easily end up being ‘ranked’ as ahead of the Russians in manned space flight capability. And by all indications, the Shuttle will be replaced (as a crewed spacecraft) by the OSP, which will either be a capsule or a lifting body (which is just a capsule with greater cross-range on landing, but is aerodynamically harder to launch). At the end of the decade I suspect we’ll find ourselves with a manned space program that’s not all that much more capable than the Chinese.

    – Eric.