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First Female Taikonaut Returns to Earth

I don’t really think this means much with regards to any competition between China and the US in space, but it’s an interesting historical event nonetheless: China’s first woman in space arrives home

This is amusing:

China’s space programme is several decades behind that of the US and Russia – which launched manned space stations in 1973 and 1971, respectively – but Beijing’s determination to boost its programme comes as the US is cutting back its investments in space. The US retired its space shuttle fleet last year.

China, by contrast, has invested about $6bn in space programmes since 1992 to catch up with its counterparts, raising eyebrows in military circles in Washington.

So, they’ve spent in the past twenty years about what NASA spends on human spaceflight in a year or so. It would seem they’re getting more for their money.

And note that FT appears to suffer from the premise that the only space program is a government space program – I guess after reading that the US (i.e.: NASA) is cutting space investment and has retired its spacecraft fleet we are supposed to infer that the US is retreating from manned space. Umm…no, not so much.


2 comments to First Female Taikonaut Returns to Earth

  • Brad

    Two things I found notable about the mission. One was the inclusion of a woman taikonaut, apparently because of declining interest from the Chinese public about the Chinese space program. The other was the duration of the mission, 13 day.

    Clearly the Chinese space program is based on satisfying one objective, rousing nationalist spirit among the Chinese. As such is it both similar and different from the Space Race of the 1960’s. The Soviets ran space spectaculars, just like the Chinese now, but unlike China the Soviet missions were aimed at an international audience to boost the prestige of world communism.

    Keeping those facts in mind, I foresee China aiming at a circumlunar manned mission once the larger Long March 5 rocket is operational. A 13 day mission is long enough to support a short mission to the moon and back. However I don’t imagine a lunar landing is in store.

    I predict a simple lunar fly-by and return, via a Long March 5 launched Shenzou spacecraft, perhaps including a woman taikonaut in the crew (giving the Chinese a genuine spaceflight first-achievement). Or perhaps a more ambitious mission of docking the Shenzou spacecraft with a small Tiangong space-station in orbit around the Moon. That mission might require two Long March 5 launches and one Long March 2 launch; one Long March 5 to preposition the Tiangong at the Moon, and one Long March 5 and one Long March 2 to assemble a Shenzou complex in LEO.

  • Hmm…interesting speculation.