What to make of the Chinese space effort?

By Phil Plait | June 21, 2012 12:46 pm

[I've been holding off writing about the Chinese space launch due to prior commitments and also because I've been trying to gather my thoughts about it. I'm still not sure where I fall, so here are some of my feelings. They are, of course, subject to change upon better arguments and evidence. I'll note also not everyone thinks crewed exploration of space is important. To be clear: those people are wrong, and I have a list of blog posts explaining why.]

Last week, the Chinese launched a crew of three into space. Their destination: the Chinese space station Tiangong-1, which — for now — consists of a single orbiting module about 10 meters long by 3 across. The Shenzou 9 capsule carrying the astronauts (sometimes called taikonauts) successfully docked with the station on Monday — the first time the Chinese have docked a crewed capsule, making them only the third nation to have achieved this feat (after Russia and the US). Video from the event was posted on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vbh2xLq470o

That’s pretty amazing — the docking was done by remote control from Earth, and appears to have gone pretty well. The crew is now aboard Tiangong-1, getting it set up. Much like the International Space Station which was launched one piece at a time and assembled in orbit, it’s clear China plans on expanding Tiangong-1. Tiangong-1 is the first in a series of planned space stations by China.

I’ve been reading about China’s space efforts, and I have to say I am uneasy by a lot of it. My first impulse, as I’ve written before, is that space is open to everyone, and the more the merrier. I’ve also been vocal about the need to avoid a "Space Race" mentality: us versus them doing something first. The problem with that is that it isn’t sustainable. Once you win (or lose) you’re done. I think it’s the main reason Apollo scaled so far back after even the first landing, and why we didn’t continue on to build a moonbase, or at least the 2001-style orbiting space station.

On the other hand, we also need to avoid the been-there-done-that mentality as well. For one thing, the NASA that went to the Moon is literally no longer the NASA that exists today. We have different rockets, different technology, and most importantly different people, both in political office as well as in the NASA engineering departments. Sure, we went to the Moon in 60s and 70s, but it is literally impossible for us to go back at the current time, and will be for many years to come. That’s worth remembering.

I say this because Amy Shira Teitel has an excellent summary of the Chinese space program on her blog. It’s a repost from last year, but it covers a lot of the background of where we are. However, she makes a point I think needs discussing:

It could go two ways. Either China will become an ally like modern Russia, or it could become an adversary like the former Soviet Union…But China isn’t really a threat yet, at least not enough of one that NASA would enter into another space race.

I think we need to have a care here. If we take a snapshot of NASA and China, then this may be true. But looking over time, I’m not so sure. China is showing a capability now to do things NASA cannot do: most obviously, launch humans into space. That capability may be back soon, whether through NASA’s own rocket system or commercial ventures like SpaceX. But right now, China has far more momentum than NASA does. In the US we’re arguing over this or that project getting its funding cut, while we make very little progress in crewed exploration. It’s worrisome.

Amy goes on:

That’s one thing China has available to its space program that NASA doesn’t: money.

This is true, but it’s part of a bigger picture; there is something else China’s space program has: political will. The money flows from that. NASA doesn’t have the money because there is little and certainly not effective enough political will in the White House or Congress for it. And what NASA gets is a dwindling budget, and then internal fighting over shrinking funding.

This is not a healthy environment for exploration and the furtherance of humankind.

And looking at China itself is a cause for worry. It’s clear the government doesn’t have much concern for its people, but it also doesn’t appear to have much concern for global space exploration. In 2007, the Chinese blew up one of their own satellites, scattering thousands of pieces of debris in orbital space and endangering lots of other satellites. This was a really stupid and dangerous stunt they pulled; I called it "evil" when I discussed it in a video I made. I haven’t changed my opinion since then. That bit of saber-rattling looms large when I think about what this week’s Tiangong-1 docking means.

Mind you, China has already stated they want to go to the Moon. They’ve launched probes there, and this crewed mission to their space station trivially shows they can put people in space.

So where does that leave us?

I want there to be peaceful cooperation in space. But I also know there are bad guys out there. We are on peaceful, but perhaps not entirely friendly, terms with China. And to me, their motives are somewhat suspect. Scientist and lunar exploration advocate Paul Spudis wrote an interesting article about this for Air and Space. His concerns seem more pointed than mine, but he correctly says that China must have an eye for controlling or at least protecting their access to the volume of space between the Earth and Moon.

The consequences of this are difficult to ascertain. We have an increasingly reactionary and jingoistic Congress, for example, which for once may work in our favor. They may see the need to further fund NASA and not cede the exploration of space to another nation. But if they do see that, we must make sure they don’t let this get out of hand and become a true race, like Apollo in the 1970s. Otherwise, in ten years, we’ll be back where we are now: with a national space agency that doesn’t have a long (or even medium) term goal, squabbling for dwindling funds, and an entire country that’s lost the vision it once had, and so desperately needs again.


Related Posts:

- China’s space lab has a spot in the Sun
- Debating space
- Shining shoes for NASA
- Blowing up a spy satellite
- BREAKING: SpySat successfully hit by missile

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Piece of mind, Politics, Space, Top Post
MORE ABOUT: China, Tiangong-1

Comments (123)

  1. Scott B

    China doesn’t care about our opinions and rightfully so. They are going to exploit space for whatever they want. Also, while a race comes with the downside you state, that’s how much science has been accomplished in history. By using a race to gain the political will to fund it. Your concern about it just ending eventually is fair, but easily circumvented. We just set a goal of that puts infrastructure in place that others can use after the political will is gone. Don’t make the mission to just land and return.

  2. timebinder

    They should call their first manned lunar expedition Clovis II.

  3. Ian

    Surely that’s the essence of competition, a fear of what your competitors can achieve which drives you forward. After all, the last 20 years of international cooperation has delievered good projects but on an ever-dwindling budget.

  4. James

    The way I see it, there may be a lot wrong with China, but there is a lot wrong with America too. In recent years America’s behaviour has been absolutely atrocious. Starting unwinnable wars in foreign countries, resulting in the deaths of countless thousands, detaining and torturing prisoners without due cause, violently assaulting it’s own citizens for protesting against it’s own corrupt government and financial systems.

    When Amy says China might be an ‘adversary’, in what way? What does she think they are going to do?

    This all smacks of old fashioned paranoia and hypocrisy to me.

    If America’s politicians are too backwards to take human space exploration forward, at least somebody is doing it. China is not squeaky clean, but nobody is these days.

  5. Phil, you got it wrong. China is NOT planning to expand current Tiangong-1, in fact China is going to deorbit it next year, and possibly launch another prototype Module: Tiangong-2. The modular space station will be built de-novo, and not using existing hardware in orbit.

  6. Five nations have done a docking in space. The Soviets, the USA, the Russians, China, and of course, Elon Musk.

  7. Renee Marie Jones

    To tell you the truth, Phil, I am far more worried about what our own country might do than what China might do. At least the Chinese care enough about their people to provide health care. In the US, “caring” seems more often to mean screaming “let them die.” We are all about promoting hatred and greed. The Chinese are trying to catch up technologically. Let us hope that they remain more human about it and do not take up our hate as well.

    Do not forget. Most people are Chinese.

  8. Joe LOder

    HAH! A good lesson in reading comprehension there. When I first started reading this, the bit in the italics gave me pause… I thought you’d said that manned exploration of space was NOT important.

    Thankfully I was wrong. And frankly I hope that this development with the Chinese spurs a reaction from us, just so long as it’s a sustainable reaction. We need to get back up there, we need to start building colonies out there and working out how to go farther still. Earth is small, and it’s filling up fast.

    Anyone that thinks our current status quo is even remotely sustainable is not looking at reality, so hopefully we can find our way out.

  9. Devin

    The only problem with your reasoning is that there are no short-term missions to race to at the moment. We (humans, I’m not from the US) already went to the moon and came back. We can set up a colony there, but that’s by definition a long term project. Any manned trip to mars will likely be a 50+ year project, start to finish, with a lot of spin-off projects.

    Any space race that starts now will likely be finished by our grandchildren, if ever. The problem with a space-race between the US and China is that likely (at least) one of them is going to experience huge economic setbacks (if not total collapse) during this time-frame. I would worry that if one of them is forced to withdraw from the race, the other will stop pursuing the goal.

  10. Cameron

    In my lifetime a nation is going to go to the moon. Sorry but just because it’s not America doing it isn’t going to make me any less excited. Ultimately cooperation is great, but the only way Americas government will ever be interested in space exploration is if it is a petty competition of one-upmanship. If that’s what it takes to get to Mars then bring it on.

  11. Chris

    @4 Renne
    The Chinese don’t care enough about their people to have clean air and water and decent working conditions. Although the GOP seems intent on eliminating the EPA and unions, so in a few years the US might have standards similar to China. Except they’d still have better health care.

  12. BT

    The key words in that article are “political will” and “momentum”. The USA manned space programme has neither.
    Also, the Chinese space agency is not competing for funds with a war – Apollo had the same problem.
    I have had the thought for years that, unless the USA gets it act together, the only thing it will find when it returns to the Moon, and reaches Mars is everyone else already there.

  13. Sure, we went to the Moon in 60s and 70s, but it is literally impossible for us to go back at the current time, and will be for many years to come. [...] China is showing a capability now to do things NASA cannot do: most obviously, launch humans into space.

    These statements are technically correct but contextually wrong. Could we just up and go to the Moon right this second? No. But it’s not because we’re not capable or lack the technology to make it happen. It’s a lack of will and deliberate squandering of the necessary resources, both human and cash, that keeps it from happening, not lack of know-how.

  14. Walkiria

    I agree with Cameron, just because the US isn’t the one doing the exploration does it mean that you should go all paranoid and think we’re in Soviet Russia times. Remember that the public became more paranoid than they should, doing witch hunts all over the US. It’s to be concerned but not to cross over. Just to keep our eyes open to any funny business.

  15. Paul

    Yeah, my thought here is that as long as they aren’t attacking us from space, then I’m fine if we aren’t #1 Woo Hoo GO USA!!!sldfksdf.

    As long as somebody has the will to explore space, then I’m at least satisfied.

  16. Omiod

    “the Chinese care enough about their people”. LOL
    For they astronauts they provided “special food” because the one found in marked is not healthy. Same for the Chinese athletes preparing for the 2012 Olympics.

    They care enough only for some of their people …

  17. Svetoslav Alexandrov (5): ah, you’re correct. I edited the post. Thanks!

  18. Daniel Schealler

    I’m surprised, to be honest.

    I thought someone in the US government would have made an argument that space superiority could very well be to future warfare what air superiority is to warfare today.

  19. Robert Leyland

    The problem with the NASA run space effort seems to be that each new President cancels the last President’s initiative and starts one of his own.

    The Kennedy initiative (Apollo) survived in part because Kennedy died in office making it political suicide to kill before it was completed, but it still got killed as soon as it could be done without too much backlash.

    After that, almost every NASA program has suffered from the rotating presidents problem.

  20. xinglongnite

    China just donated $43 billion to rescue the european states, while US and canada washed their hands, including both Romney and Obama’s, saying we would not spend our money to save them. Many of you would say that is evil and dangerous. Who was the one said that what country wants full spectrum space dominance?

  21. Quatguy

    All symptoms of a larger issue. Nations and cultures come into and go out of prominance in dominanting world affairs. Roman, Aztecs, Byzantium etc. In the western world, it could be argued that the 17th Century was dominated by the Dutch, the 18th and 19th Centuries by Great Britain and the 20th Century by the US. I am convinced that the 21st Century will be Chinese. The sooner that Americans stop burying their heads in the sand trying to undercut each other and the environment and come to that relization, the better off they (and the rest of us) will be. As it stands now, the sun is clearly beginning to set on American science and technology, economics and politics. To me personally, it does not matter who dominates as long as it is done by a democratic country (or cooperative) with the best interests of all in mind. Of course no such country exists. I can’t wait for the day a modified UN (or similar body) takes the lead in setting up a single world government to oversee issues of global concern. It will never happen in my lifetime and not under global social conditions organized around individual nationalistic goals. We are all in this boat together and if we don’t start to work together on our common problems, we will all sink.

  22. Bob Robinson

    Renee; Most people are NOT Chinese. True, there are more Chinese than any other nationality, but they do not comprise more than 50% of the world’s polulation.

    What NASA needs is a really good PR campaign. One thing they could do is put together a series of one minute films with images from Hubble, Cassini, and other sattelites and probes, that could be shown in theaters just prior to the “coming attractions”. They could end each one with a little drama from Neil deGrasse Tyson. He could take a dollar bill and snip off the strip at one end while saying “NASA was able to bring us these images with a budget of 7/10ths of one percent of the total US budget – less per dollar than the strip I just cut off this bill. Imagine what could be done if their budget were 2%!”

    No offense intended to Phil. It’s just that Dr. Tyson is a little more photogenic.

    Maybe someone will see my post and be inspired!

  23. Ron

    I am a little disappointed to see you indulging in what I perceive as fairly run-of-the-mill Sinophobia. We’re not so great ourselves; and if you look at things in the broader context of survival of the species as a whole, someone’s gotta do it. And they are, and nobody else is, and bully for them.

    Also, NASA is increasingly irrelevant. SpaceX proves (as if we needed any more proof after the last 20 years) that the only way forward for American space venture is the private sector. Fine–use public funds, but let the private sector figure it out. Take politics and bureaucracy out of the equation and magic happens. I predict NASA will end up filling an FAA-like role in the future, rather than directly getting their hands dirty. We don’t let the Feds run the airlines, and we don’t have any reason to believe they would be the right people to run the spacelines.

  24. JohnA

    I don’t know how many people here are aware of the fact that China goes all out for this space program partly (or mainly) because US denied China to join the International Space Station program, a program of international cooperation that includes over 15 countries, including our formerly cold enemy (Russia).

    So, ask yourself. Should China just sit there and admire pictures taken by other nations in outerspace? If you are unhappy about any bad consequences of China’s space program, we should reflect on our own policy in the first place.

  25. Phil -”an increasingly reactionary and jingoistic Congress” the problem that could arise out of that is a full out militarization of space , treaties be damned. I don’t doubt for a second that China fully intends to have a military presence in space – no one should. It’s the reaction to it that will be important. If it becomes a MAD Cold War all over again then funding you want to see for NASA and space exploration will go towards orbiting weapons platforms instead.

  26. Matt B.

    @7 Renee – Um, no. One fifth of all people are Chinese. But most people (~60%) are Asian (with Asia including more than just the Orient). And it’s also true to say that China is the world’s most-populous nation, but that doesn’t make it a majority.

  27. Jacobus Peterson

    The fact is that space has already been militarized. The GPS system is a military system add to that the spy satilites that upteen countries now employ and worry about coflict extending in to orbital space is a day late and a dollar short.

    Now as some SF writers, Geopolitical thinkers, and Military stratagists have pointed out the higher you can climb out of earths gravity well the more advantage you have. Given this reality coupled with the current Nation state system, wishing for peace and cooporation (if desireable)seems ill concieved.

  28. Kullat Nunu

    [quote]China doesn’t care about our opinions and rightfully so.[/quote]

    Exactly!

    BTW, manned spaceflight is really not a high priority thing for China — that’s one reason why they’re proceeding so slowly.

  29. William Mellberg

    Phil Plait wrote:

    “there is something else China’s space program has: political will.”

    Wernher von Braun was asked in 1969 what had been the most important factor in sending men to the Moon. His reply: “The will to do it.”

    Yes, America has changed. We had “the will to do it” half a century ago when President Kennedy called upon America to take the leadership role in space. Our current president seems to be willing to accept a lesser role for NASA and the United States. Some day in the not too distant future, Americans might be asking themselves how the Chinese managed to build a lunar outpost while we remain stuck in Low Earth Orbit.

    Stephen wrote:

    “Five nations have done a docking in space. The Soviets, the USA, the Russians, China, and of course, Elon Musk.”

    Actually, it’s the Soviet Union (Russia), the United States, Europe (ESA), China, Japan and SpaceX. Technically, Japan’s HTV and the SpaceX Dragon don’t dock. They are berthed (grabbed by the Canadarm2 and connected to an open docking port).

  30. At “”"5:45″”" in the Launch Video the X-37B fly’s by…Right hand screen to upper left

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaDJCr-5T1U

    (ok, not sure on what satellite flew by,but what are the odd’s,It landed couple days later…)

    Enjoy!

  31. Chris R

    I wonder where the X-37B fits into the conversation.

    I don’t see armed conflict between the US and China as a real possibility anytime soon, but there’s definitely some shows of force on both sides. China’s military spending is obviously well below ours (just look at their recycled aircraft carriers), but do they need to at least make some kind of demonstration of actual military space capabilities for their own pride?

  32. HP

    So, wouldn’t the smart thing be to get China involved early and often in international space programs, like the ISS and the various permutations of ESA/JAXA/ISRO/Roscomosos/NASA scientific research collaborations?

    I mean, we had NASA astronauts on Mir even as Reagan was turning the Cold War up to 11. And our relations with modern China are nowhere near as tense or as fraught.

    It seems odd to me that in an age of international space collaboration, they’ve got this rogue manned space program off on their own. Is China refusing our overtures, or are we freezing them out?

  33. MadScientist

    The way I see it is China is doing a number of things:

    1. demonstrating their own capability and establishing their credentials
    2. developing expertise within their own space organization
    3. getting on with the job rather than wasting huge amounts of time and money with joint projects

    If China were to ask to join a joint venture at this stage, they wouldn’t even be treated like second fiddle – for now it’s really in their best interests to do this all on their own. Personally I welcome China’s efforts – it means there’s yet another commercial heavy launch provider in the future. Now you can choose to launch with India, China, Japan, USA, Russia, and the ESA.

  34. I feel neither jealous of nor concerned by the Chinese space program. When it’s all said and done it’s more important for humankind to get off this rock than it is for any particular nation to win a race. I wish them well.

  35. Shatners Basoon

    The hypocracy of this article is outstanding. My respect for Dr Plait somewhat diminished.

  36. Steve D

    (Renee Marie Jones) “At least the Chinese care enough about their people to provide health care.”

    You are kidding, right? What level of care does the average person get? Do they care enough to provide clean air and water?

    “Do not forget. Most people are Chinese.”

    Not even close. 1.3 out of 7 billion isn’t “most.”

    Right now we have right wing anti-intellectuals who don’t want to spend money on anything, and left-wing anti-intellectuals who hate space exploration because it takes money they could otherwise waste here on badly thought out social and regulatory programs. So go, China!

  37. IR

    While the United States may engage in distasteful behaviors from time to time, it’s nothing compared to the human rights violations of China. I like space exploration as much as the next guy, but any advancement China makes is a step back for humankind. Therefore I do not like China’s recent achievement in space.

  38. Phil, it is interesting that you only talk about “NASA” when discussing the USA in space. You ignore that on the US side there are other, in some ways more important, extremely powerful players in the field besides the civilian NASA. If you think US activities in space are entirely peaceful and sciencey only, you are pretty naive.

    Much of the current US activities in space is not about science or cooperation at all. It is, plain and simple, about securing a military foothold and supremacy in space. With your restriction to “NASA”, you completely ignore this very strong US militarization of Space.

    In many ways, the real (but hidden) face of US activities and innovation in space is not NASA but that “other” space agency, the NRO. Which you completely ignore in your discussion. Through the NRO, the USA has a huge and active, growing military presence in space. Talking about NASA but not the NRO in this context and comparing it to the Chinese activities with an undertone of “what do they really want up there?”, means you are providing your readers a quite unbalanced view.

    Each year, the NRO launches for Billions of dollars of high tech military assets into space (like today’s NROL-38 launch for example).

    The biggest satellites up there bar the Space Station? They are not NASA’s, but NRO’s (the Mentor geostationary SIGINT satellites). Remember those two Hubble-like space telescopes recently donated to NASA? Which had just been sitting idle in a clean room? Leftovers of a cancelled multi-billion dollar program. By the NRO. And the NRO has four Space telescopes of a different but comparable program (the KeyHoles) operational and orbiting in space right at this moment. Four. Compare that to NASA’s single Hubble. And no, they (the NRO) do not use those for science and to further cooperation. They use them for military and geopolitical gain obtaining strategic data, amongst others on China.

    America’s space activities under the flag of the NRO play a huge role in safeguarding US geopolitical interests. Compared to these NRO (and other US national security agencies) activities in space, the Chinese space activities, while not insignificant, so far amount to peanuts. When it comes to securing space from a military viewpoint, the US is way ahead of them.

    And China feels threathened by this, understandably perhaps. Which is exactly why the Chinese sent that signal in 2007 with their ASAT test (they earlier had been pointing lasers at US military reconnaissance satellites). And what motivates them to gain foothold on their own by means of their current space program.

    If the Chinese space program leads to more US government investment in space, I bet you it will be the NRO who will gain from this. Not NASA.

  39. Jonathan McDowell

    My impression is that the Chinese now realize the ASAT test was done in a dumb way and they’re embarrassed by it.
    Their more recent tests of that system have been against suborbital targets and have not generated debris.

    They certainly do have a very active military space program (navigation, communications, intelligence) but not out of proportion to the defense-related space programs of the US or Russia. And Tiangong/Shenzhou, although run by the PLA formally, has a civilian orientation.

    The attitude of the PRC towards its own citizens is another matter.
    In the very long run, though, I believe the important thing is to see a human-settled solar system. I’m not that concerned if it ends up being Chinese, because I suspect that light-travel-time limitations will prevent a system-wide monoculture in the same way that ship-travel-time limited British colonialism in the Americas.

    And I think it’s USAF rather than NRO that is likely to see extra investment, alas – space weaponization and space control, which is under organizations like AFRCO and AFSMC, rather than more NRO intelligence assets.

  40. Doug

    Phil, I don’t know why you’re worried about China getting a jump on the US. Our leaders have already determined that the only way to compete successfully with China is to become just like them. That’s why labor unions, business regulation, and environmental protection are all held in such contempt these days. So if someone’s entitled to occupy the moral high ground, it sure as hell ain’t us.

  41. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Free and equitable competition is one thing, but closed and targeted nationalism (“we”) is boring and dangerous as it leads to bigotry, suppression and war. The article suffers from this affliction, the chinese effort to.

    But not as a “threat” but because they do this to show off how far they have come from humble beginnings. In 4 years (2016, IIRC) they may be the new economical superpower, considering US achilles heel of deficit and debt they likely are de facto so. So its for show, much as Skylab was.

    Yes, Tiangong-1 may be deorbited. It has been claimed that these modules, say Tiangong-2 or a follower, are ultimately targeted to become cargo crafts to the station, à la HTV/ATV.

    @ Stephen:

    “Five nations have done a docking in space. The Soviets, the USA, the Russians, China, and of course, Elon Musk.”

    Funny, but incorrect.

    Entities which have done docking in space:

    USSR, US, Russia, Japan (HTV), EU (ATV), China and SpaceX. (7)

    Entities which have done manned craft docking in space:

    USSR, US, Russia, and China. (4)

  42. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Doug:

    That doesn’t make entirely sense. China is, I take it, the nation that puts the most money into the environment these days, with the most aggressive wind power and electric car programs et cetera. They are, or will be, running circles around the old wild west scorched earth tactics of land (oil) use.

    But as in the case of economy, corruption, and human rights they start from a very low level.

    Just don’t expect them to stay there as they didn’t do in the economics area. They are currently the most dynamic nation, it seems.

  43. Slowly but Surly

    @ BA:

    I followed your link in the first paragraph, “To be clear: those people are wrong, and I have a list of blog posts explaining why.“ That leads to a post with 20+ more links. Call me lazy if you wish, because it’s true, but could you please summarize your thoughts on this sometime? I assume that such a summary would be about manned / robot trade-offs.

    Thanks!

  44. reidh

    So the Chinese communists have the money and the will to Be Man In Space ( see one of your blogs from last week) But only NASA has the right stuff/ I agree

  45. Adrian

    We shot down a satellite a year later

  46. Alhazred

    Meh, I take the long view. China is 10-15 years from a manned lunar expedition, at least. These are only baby steps anyway. Even a manned permanent presence on the lunar surface is just a tiny step in a long long saga that will probably continue far past the time when the petty concerns of early 21st Century Americans are as quaint and historical as those of generations 200 years gone from us. Who even knows what China or the US will look like in 50 years, let alone 200?

    We’re all standing on the shores of an infinite ocean of space and we’ve barely dipped our toes in it. Good luck to anyone who’s brave enough to take the next little step, and the one after that.

    Sure, today’s Chinese government may not quite meet our American approval in every way, but lets not be so hasty to decide how everyone else should go about their lives. There is strength in diversity. They’ll take their own path, but in the end it will hardly matter, just little ripples in the river of time. 1000 years from now it will hardly matter and may be barely remembered who did what when or that there was a United States and it was a rival of some quaint nation called the PRC. Those Chinese taikonauts are 99.997% the same as you or I.

    Peace.

  47. Adrian (45): The US shooting down a satellite was a completely different situation, as you’ll see if you click the link to the video I provided. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7lgtPBgQfY#t=4m50s

  48. Monkey

    Doug – Thanks, I was about to write a screed of similar context but you hit the nail on the proverbial head.

  49. Davros

    Oh dear. If this was a NASA or spacex mission you’d be hoarse from cheering : (

    Yes, there are valid concerns about the Chinese government’s human rights record, its lack of openness, etc. And their motives aren’t entirely pure (there’s a military/strategic element at the least). But the same things can be said of the US space program (see Marco Langbroek’s post above).

    Its a good thing that space technology spreads wider and this makes it more likely that access to space will improve in the long term. We should be encouraging the civilian peaceful side of the Chinese space program and talking about how that can help everyone.

    It seems like the strongest reason you’ve put forward to be concerned is that the US may react inappropriately. Does that not seem backwards?

  50. Dylan

    Great post. But I must add as well when you said the Chinese government doesn’t care about it’s people, I can’t say that the American government is any different. They are careless to their people in different ways. Can you specify more about what you meant by that?

  51. Messier Tidy Upper

    @4. James :

    When Amy says China might be an ‘adversary’, in what way? What does she think they are going to do?

    Do you remember the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, James? See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_protests_of_1989#1.E2.80.932_June

    &

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDKVEprC948&feature=related

    I will never forget it.

    The People’s Republic of China military slaughtered their own people, their own children for wanting reform and democracy that we take for granted. They piled their corpses up and ran them over with tanks and set fire to them with flamethrowers.

    My nation’s then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, cried openly on the news as he related what the Chinese regime did so brutally to its own people. That Chinese regime is still in place still ruling with an iron fist and utter ruthless lack of compassion and is trying to erase that incident along with the famous tank man who for one or two brief seconds became a global icon of defiance of tyranny :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-nXT8lSnPQ
    The People’s Dictatorship of China committed in 1989 one of the very worst massacres in history certainly post WWII history. Against their own.

    How much less care then would they display to others who are not of their Han Chinese ethnicity?

    Do you know, do youhave any idea of how the PRC has behaved in Tibet? Of the appallling acts of cruelty and barbarity the Chinese militray has done against unarmed non-violent Buddhist monks.

    No, I don’t want the Chinese to have good missile technology, to rule the Ultimate High Ground, to have any power over us at all.

    They are totalitarian we are democratic. We pay human rights at least some respect, they do not.

    Westerners have behaved imperfectly at times, the Chinese rulers (if not their people) have behaved like monsters for centuries.

  52. @11 Chris: @4 Renne
    The Chinese don’t care enough about their people to have clean air and water and decent working conditions. Although the GOP seems intent on eliminating the EPA and unions, so in a few years the US might have standards similar to China. Except they’d still have better health care.

    This. China is making great strides in technology and economic growth, but some of that is made possible by steamrolling over peoples’ rights (see the Three Gorges dam project) and the environment in general (pretty much everything else). Authoritarianism is a double-edged sword, and one which both the far left and far right love to swing in equal measure. Somehow in the US we’ve wound up with a large contingent that’s just as extremely far to the right as the Chinese Communist party is to the left.

  53. I have to admit I didn’t understand from your post what exactly you are worried about. The Chinese being in space? Going to the Moon and painting it red (no problem, we just write Coca Cola on it)? Or the fact that without an adversary they can beat into the ground, the US are doing nothing? Or maybe that the Chinese cut all the corners, including human life and fair fighting, when they compete?

    As I see it, these all cancel out. The Russians are no longer the evil empire that can do whatever it wants. Constrained by international politics, it is reduced to playing by the rules, where the richest nation wins. That’s good news for US, but bad for everyone else, especially when it has become complacent and greedy at the same time. China is still separate and will remain so for some time. I see it as the only country that can actively counteract the bad parts of globalization. It doesn’t play by the rules, so it will be a tough adversary to beat and then maybe some of the complacency will fall.

    So as far as they don’t start shooting at each other and drop satellites on our heads, I say let the race begin.

  54. loukaniko

    So, its not about humanity going to space, its about US going to space.

    the Cold War II is before the gates, and Phil you are encouraging to welcome it.

    What exactly are you afraid? China inviding in the US by dropping paratroops from space probs?

    What attempts have been made for cooperation with US and China in the space?

    I was expecting at least for a call for cooperation between the nations (you know, something like expand the ISS with chinese modules or working together to something larger). But I see a sad attemt to defent an ego, much like lined with US invasive external politics. Maybe this blog is mainly for americans and I have took it wrong.

  55. James

    @51. Messier Tidy Upper

    I think you are missing my point, I’m not justifying anything China has done in the past.

    I am pointing out that America is just as bad, but in different ways.

    How many wars has China started recently? How many hundreds of thousands of people has it killed in foreign countries? How many nuclear bombs has it dropped on populated cities?

    As a non-American I can tell you, America scares me more than any other country on Earth. It’s so obsessed with war, it has the most powerful military and it’s run by religious zealots. That is not a good combination. You don’t have a democracy, you have a two party tag-team dictatorship, and the one party is only slightly less insane than the other.

  56. Our relationship with China is strange indeed. I don’t think that Cold War strategies or comparisons really work anymore. During the days of the USSR, there was both a cultural iron curtain and an economic partition existing between East and West. Now, the United States is China’s biggest trading partner. No matter how powerful China gets, their economy is inextricably linked to that of the US. That’s why I can’t really see China becoming the sort of adversary that the USSR once was (at least, unless we suffer a devastating global depression that makes the current global economic situation look rosy).

    @18 Daniel S: I’m surprised, to be honest.
    I thought someone in the US government would have made an argument that space superiority could very well be to future warfare what air superiority is to warfare today.

    I think they have; look at all the work happening on the Air Force’s X-37B. NASA is primarily a civilian science organization (meaning they’re doubly lousy at keeping secrets) so the military is pursuing their own space projects outside of NASA that they can keep under wraps.

    @35 Shatners Bassoon: The hypocracy of this article is outstanding.

    Um… such as? Examples, please.

  57. @53 James: America scares me more than any other country on Earth. It’s so obsessed with war, it has the most powerful military and it’s run by religious zealots. That is not a good combination. You don’t have a democracy, you have a two party tag-team dictatorship, and the one party is only slightly less insane than the other.

    The very fact that you could freely make a post such as this in the US (I’m not saying you’re in the US, I’m simply giving a hypothetical situation) is all that needs to be said for the differences between China and the US. Good luck being a Chinese citizen and publicly making the same sort of condemnations of your government. Criticism is key to improvement. For all the many problems that the US has, it at least has an imperfect but evolving system of correcting injustices that China lacks.

    Now, getting back to the argument in question, you might argue that NASA is inconsistent cooperating with the USSR, and then turning around and refusing to cooperate with China; apparently there are “technology transfer issues” (the US doesn’t want to give China any technology it doesn’t already have). Still, I doubt that they’d get any technology from the ISS project that they couldn’t get on the international market.

  58. Summary: Only Americans can go to space? and the third world countries don’t have the rights? faceplam!!

  59. James

    @55 Joseph G

    “Good luck being a Chinese citizen and publicly making the same sort of condemnations of your government. Criticism is key to improvement.”

    But of course when one of your soldiers tries to reveal your military war crimes. Do you congratulate him for trying to improve the system? Nope, you lock him away without trial. When a foreign journalist publishes that information, do you hold it up as a symbol of democracy and freedom of the press? Nope, you try to get him extradited to your country, where he faces the possibility of the death penalty.
    When your own citizens sit down in peaceful protest, what do you do? Well you pepper spray them all in the face obviously.

    The America you are talking about may have existed once. But it is clearly moving backwards now.

    Only recently one of your potential presidential candidates used homophobia as a key message in his campaign. Freedom of speech is great, but the minute it starts to harm other people, that’s where it should end.

    Clearly I have to repeat myself, I am not saying China is good, quite the opposite. But there is nothing bad about their current space missions. If they want to build missiles they are more than capable of doing so, but that is not what they are doing here.

  60. puppygod

    re: militarization of space

    The dirty secret of space exploration is that most of it does have military application. Pretty much by definition. Just taking into account ranges these things fly and energy densities involved. I mean the only difference between the system that deliver satellite safely into orbit and system that will leave smoking crater in densely populated city centre is trajectory parameters, and only difference between doing orbital astronomy and doing SIGINT is the direction the instruments are facing.

    Space is already militarized as Jacobus Petersen pointed out @27. It’s not about technology – it’s about how we use it.

    re: human rights

    Sure, China has pretty bad records in that department. But taking into account dynamic of changes within China and within USA (see James @53), I think it’s quite possible that by the time we settle on the Moon China will become better place than US when it comes to human rights and freedom.

  61. Paul A.

    Every time I hear about the Chinese space program I feel like I’ve traveled 40 years back in time. On the other hand, the United States can’t launch an astronaut into the space on its own anymore and I wonder where that leaves us.

  62. Christian

    @HP

    China did show interest to participate in the ISS program.
    But the USA shut them out for fear of “transfer of technology” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station#China).

    Damn shame. And a missed opportunity. Now they do their own thing which imho could prove far more dangerous than peaceful cooperation.

  63. Nigel Depledge

    Joe Loder (8) said:

    Earth is small, and it’s filling up fast.

    While I agree that manned exploration of space is mostly a good thing, this is not a convincing argument. How much infrastructure would we need up there to support, say, 10,000 space colonists? Quite a lot more than we have yet imagined sending up, I conjecture.

    And yet 10,000 is a trifle compared with the billions on Earth.

  64. Nigel Depledge

    William Melberg (29) said:

    Actually, it’s the Soviet Union (Russia), the United States, Europe (ESA), China, Japan and SpaceX. Technically, Japan’s HTV and the SpaceX Dragon don’t dock. They are berthed (grabbed by the Canadarm2 and connected to an open docking port).M

    Yeah, I think at least part of Stephen’s point was that the USSR and Russia are two separate entities. Even in the old USSR, Russia was but a single Soviet Socialist Republic, one of I don’t know how many. Now, nations that once were other SSRs such as Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are independent states.

    But I agree about the difference between berthing and docking. Docking is a specific and active process.

    Claiming that the Dragon docked to ISS is like claiming that the USSR achieved the first orbital rendezvous (they did indeed claim this, but it was a bit of a cheat – they launched two spacecraft on trajectories that would intersect so the vehicles passed within a few hundred metres of each other, but they passed by quite quickly, so the cosmonauts did not have time to do more than wave at each other).

  65. Nigel Depledge

    HP (32) said:

    Is China refusing our overtures, or are we freezing them out?

    If John A (#24) is right, it’s the latter.

  66. Nigel Depledge

    IR (37) said:

    While the United States may engage in distasteful behaviors from time to time, it’s nothing compared to the human rights violations of China. I like space exploration as much as the next guy, but any advancement China makes is a step back for humankind. Therefore I do not like China’s recent achievement in space.

    Maybe so, but most leading nations have been through a phase that parallels China’s HR violations.

    Look at the USA up until about the end of the 1970s.

    Look at the UK throughout the 19th century. And, hey, we only gave India back to its indigenous population in 1948. And Zimbabwe in about 1980 (ish); I can recall a time when that country was still called Rhodesia.

    And so on.

    Just because we are better now doesn’t mean that we are morally superior.

    And it can easily be argued that the USA doesn’t much care about its people – among developed nations, it has one of the largest gaps between rich and poor. And a trailer park is not so far removed from a shanty town.

  67. Peter Davey

    Heinlein famously said that the laws of nature are not the property of any nation or society – they belong to anyone who is prepared to make us of them. Mind you, in his last years, he made a number of speeches, warning of the danger of the American space programme being overtaken by the Japanese.

  68. James

    @60. Nigel Depledge

    “How much infrastructure would we need up there to support, say, 10,000 space colonists?”

    That’s a very short-term view. It may be impractical to colonise space with current technology. But do you really expect the current situation to remain the same forever? How about in 2,000 years from now? Still think we won’t be able to do it? How about 10,000 years? 100,000 years? The world will be very different by then.

    The point is, we have to start human space exploration right now, otherwise we will not have advanced enough by the time we really need it.

    Future technology may allow us to convert places like Mars into habitable planets. Or perhaps we could just use all that extra land to grow food for the much denser population here on Earth, as food is the primary problem with overpopulation.

    Future technology will inevitably solve the problems that seem impossible now, it always does. But for that to happen, you have to keep developing new technology.

  69. James @53 wrote:

    How many wars has China started recently?

    I’ll play your rhetorical game. I’ll be the first to agree that the conflict in SW Asia was probably a criminal act and should be prosecuted! But, the one in Central Asia?

    If you wish to defend those murderous thugs, have the balls to do so! That regime had the worse human rights record on the planet, and they harbored terrorists that murdered 3000 people in my country.

    Mullah Omar and the talibs were presented with an ultimatum before the commencement of hostilities– surrender the murders and grant the USA the right to inspect terrorist training sites– the fools in control chose not grant the just demands.

    BTW, a side effect of that conflict is that girls can now attend school… and kids can listen to music.

    How many hundreds of thousands of people has it killed in foreign countries?

    Yeah, from what I have read, your numbers are way off. Most credible estimates for Iraq are about 100k– horrendous, and once again, should be prosecuted– the numbers for Afghanistan are substantially less.

    How many nuclear bombs has it dropped on populated cities?

    Here, your naivete really comes to the surface. Who knows why that weapon was used??? But, it is readily apparent to all scholars of the conflict that it saved lives… both, American and Japanese.

    BTW, I was present when Khrushchev’s grandson, Alexei Adzhubei, made the same argument in a forum at my university… just after the Soviet puppets had murdered the Afghan royal family!

    Clicking my SN and scrolling, one can find my thoughts on it.

    You don’t have a democracy, you have a two party tag-team dictatorship, and the one party is only slightly less insane than the other.

    You sir, are demonstrably wrong! The USA is representative republic, but your bias is noted.

  70. James

    @66. Solius

    “If you wish to defend those murderous thugs”

    Try reading my previous comments again, such as…

    “The way I see it, there may be a lot wrong with China”
    “I’m not justifying anything China has done in the past.”
    “Clearly I have to repeat myself, I am not saying China is good, quite the opposite. ”

    I understand it’s a lot easier to ignore the fact that my argument is based on the problems with America and in no way defending China. This is what is commonly referred to as a straw man argument. If your opponent is not saying what you want them to say, you just pretend that they are, and attack that imaginary point of view instead.

    I would say America could have dropped the bomb just off the coast and it would have sent just as a powerful message… and while other countries could have benefited from using nuclear weapons on their enemies, none of them have, because they realise how morally repugnant it is. If Japan had dropped nuclear bombs on American cities, thus ending the war, would you still say that would have been a good thing?

    Obviously I was joking about America being a dictatorship. I was just pointing out that both of the parties have highly questionable policies and attitudes. A choice between a punch in the face or kick in the stomach, is not really a choice.

  71. James, @ 57 wrote:

    But of course when one of your soldiers tries to reveal your military war crimes. Do you congratulate him for trying to improve the system? Nope, you lock him away without trial.

    He will get his trial, and I suspect I won’t bode well for Pfc. Manning. I am a staunch supporter of what he did, but at the same time, he did it knowing the consequences of his actions. Private Manning chose to martyr, himself!

    He is a brave person that demands respect.

    That being said, there is not a government on the planet that wouldn’t prosecute Pfc. Manning for his actions… most would kill him!

    When a foreign journalist publishes that information, do you hold it up as a symbol of democracy and freedom of the press? Nope, you try to get him extradited to your country, where he faces the possibility of the death penalty.

    While some rethug retards might have called for Assange’s execution, there is nothing in the criminal code that would permit it.

    When your own citizens sit down in peaceful protest, what do you do? Well you pepper spray them all in the face obviously.

    OFFS! Civil disobedience is illegal everywhere. In a lot countries–like China– it will get you killed!

    The America you are talking about may have existed once. But it is clearly moving backwards now.

    I beg to differ- progressives are on the move, and we are motivating the electorate!

    Only recently one of your potential presidential candidates used homophobia as a key…

    Let me guess… he follows some brutal thug from the 19th Century???

  72. Nigel Depledge

    MTU (51) said:

    The People’s Republic of China military slaughtered their own people, their own children for wanting reform and democracy that we take for granted. They piled their corpses up and ran them over with tanks and set fire to them with flamethrowers.

    I can’t view youtube from work, but the Wiki article you link makes no mention of flamethrowers (at least, in the section to which the link sent me).

    However, in what way is something that happened 23 years ago relevant?

    Or are you saying that the brutal suppression of civil rights protests in the USA in the 1960s are also relevant? Or the way the British police dealt with the Suffragettes back in the 1910s?

    Sure, it would be great if China were a democracy, but it would also be great if the USA were a democracy, but it ain’t.

    (Technically, the USA is a constitutional republic, but mostly it is ruled by big business : if you have the money, you have access to and influence over the people in power.)

  73. James, @70 wrote:

    Try reading my previous comments again…

    I know what you wrote, you referred to “recent wars”! Your reference is clear. However, if the reference was to the 50 year old conflict in SE Asia, then say so. I have views on that one, too.

  74. Nigel Depledge

    MTU (51) said:

    Westerners have behaved imperfectly at times, the Chinese rulers (if not their people) have behaved like monsters for centuries.

    This is empty hyperbole.

    For every atrocity committed by a Chinese ruler to Chinese citizens over the last 500 years, it is easy to find a matching one from western “civilisation”. Just because western civilisations have been relatively peacable and relatively enlightened for a generation does not make us better than the Chinese. It just makes us quicker.

  75. Jonathan G.

    Well, this rather naive (sorry Phil, but you deserve it) blogpost has certainly stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest…

    1) The public stuff has an air of the Grand Vanity Project so beloved by imperialist nations.

    2) Doubtless the Chinese will be exploiting space for military purposes. That’s not a first, either.

    3) Perhaps they think they have a way to actually make space pay. Aside from telecoms (and maybe tourism) that would be a first.

    A couple of notes for the political hand-wringers:

    1) If every nation that killed it’s own peaceful protesters was barred from space exploration then there would be no GPS, no banal satellite television and no Apollo. And without the Chinese your GPS handsets and televisions would be unaffordium anyway. We’re happy to let China be our sweatshop, with all the environmental and social issues that their people have to endure, so I think they’ve earned their space program (so long as they play by the rules).

    2) Isolationism never stopped a sovereign state from acting the asshat. It just makes the impotent folks back home feel a bit better.

  76. Niles Depledge, above, wrote:

    Technically, the USA is a constitutional republic, but mostly it is ruled by big business : if you have the money, you have access to and influence over the people in power.

    Yes, you are referring to super pacs, and both sides have them. My favorite is Move On.

    Even us inconspicuous non-entities can have a voice, too.

  77. Nigel Depledge

    Joseph G (57) said:

    The very fact that you could freely make a post such as this in the US (I’m not saying you’re in the US, I’m simply giving a hypothetical situation) is all that needs to be said for the differences between China and the US. Good luck being a Chinese citizen and publicly making the same sort of condemnations of your government.

    Yeah?

    You try posting something that advocates actually taking action to change the status quo, and then see how closely the NSA keeps tabs on you.

    Criticism is key to improvement.

    No. Listening to criticism is the key to improvement. The government of neither the US nor the UK is big on listening to its citizens, unless those citizens have flipping great wodges of cash.

    For all the many problems that the US has, it at least has an imperfect but evolving system of correcting injustices that China lacks.

    Perhaps. I think the strongest point about the USA’s government system is the constitution. Otherwise, the US is too similar to so many other countries, in which the poorer end of the populace has no real representation.

    Now, getting back to the argument in question, you might argue that NASA is inconsistent cooperating with the USSR, and then turning around and refusing to cooperate with China;

    Erm, Russia is a partner on the ISS, and I guess NASA cooperated with the USSR for the Apollo-Soyuz project back in the mid-70s, but never conflate Russia with the USSR.

  78. James

    I think we need to remember that when it comes down to it, countries are just imaginary concepts. Very rarely are the people in any geographical location fairly represented by their leaders.

    Lumping everyone in China into the same category is totally unfair.

    It’s also unfair to assume that just because the leadership of a country has done terrible things, that the country cannot achieve anything good in the future and is permanently tainted by it.

    If that is the case, then why doesn’t it apply to all of us? Have we forgotten that western civilisation was built on the slave trade? What about the fact that most of our clothes and technology comes from countries like china and india where workers do not have the same rights that we do.

    It’s very easy to sit here benefiting from other people’s suffering, while we point the finger at the same systems that we are helping to support.

    “Hypocrisy – noun
    the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pre tense.”

  79. Roberto

    Phil, I’m kinda disappointed by your Yellow Peril rhetoric.

  80. James, probably the greatest works to my education, was Winston Churchill’s “The Second World War”… I used to be a pacifist!

  81. Doug

    #53,
    “Going to the Moon and painting it red (no problem, we just write Coca Cola on it)? ”

    Sounds like someone remembers Heinlein’s “The Man Who Sold the Moon”.

  82. Now, I am a realist!

  83. Nigel Depledge

    James (68) said:

    “How much infrastructure would we need up there to support, say, 10,000 space colonists?”

    That’s a very short-term view. It may be impractical to colonise space with current technology.

    I’m not sure you quite understood the main thrust of my comment.

    My point was not about the impracticality of space colonisation per se. It was more about the massive effort needed to send even a tiny fraction of Earth’s population up there to start a colony, and how small a percentage of the human population we could actually support in space.

    Thence, I was pointing out that, even though I mostly agree that manned exploration of space is a good thing, the argument made in #8 (which I quoted) was weak.

    But do you really expect the current situation to remain the same forever? How about in 2,000 years from now?

    Of course not. What makes you think I was implying it would?

    Still think we won’t be able to do it?

    I think we could do it now, if the will existed.

    How about 10,000 years? 100,000 years? The world will be very different by then.

    Obviously.

    The point is, we have to start human space exploration right now, otherwise we will not have advanced enough by the time we really need it.

    This is debatable, but I can certainly see that there are reasonable arguments to support your contention.

    Future technology may allow us to convert places like Mars into habitable planets. Or perhaps we could just use all that extra land to grow food for the much denser population here on Earth, as food is the primary problem with overpopulation.

    We may find that water, energy and waste heat are equally substantial problems.

  84. skydaddy

    You folks seem to miss the point.

    China takes the LONG VIEW. They have a culture and a written language that dates back 2500 years. If you can read Chinese, you can read Confucius in the original – the written language has not changed. In Chinese, the very structure of the language makes it difficult to boast of what you as an individual might do. It is, on the other hand, very easy to speak of that-which-will-be-accomplished as if it-has-already-been-accomplished.

    In 1984 I visited the Chinese exhibit at the Knoxville World’s Fair. I saw works of art that took *decades* to produce, that were completed by the grandson of the artisan who began the work. During WW2, the Chinese turned out laborers to build runways for the B-29s bombing Japan. They used no heavy earthmoving machinery, just tens of thousands of laborers breaking big rocks into little rocks, carrying them in baskets, to build runways more than a mile long and hundreds of yards wide.

    This is a people who WILL accomplish what they set out to do. It is what they have done for thousands of years. There is no doubt in their minds that they will achieve their goals.

    What are their goals? It is hard to say. But centuries ago, China had a deep-water fleet that projected naval power around the globe. Now they are building a deep-water navy. Certainly they intend to reclaim Taiwan – and will we really go to war over Taiwan?

    Also this: thanks to the One-Child policy, they have raised a second generation of military, political, and economic leaders with no siblings, no cousins, no aunts or uncles… no extended family other than The State. Leaders who have never had to share, wait their turn, or wear hand-me-downs.

    Think on that a while.

  85. The US has an asteroid mining company. That company wants to take asteroids, enclose them as property, and have exclusive use of them. How is this not more aggressive than whatever designs China has on securing their access to translunar space?

    No doubt that if someone else tries to mine an asteroid that Planetary Resources claims, the US military will fight them. If PR pays exploitation fees, it will be to the US government. No attempt has been made so far to recognise (monetarily) that anybody else might have as much of a natural right to the resources of the solar system as the US government and corporations do. As far as I can tell, the US is going to effectively try to claim the entire universe at some point in the next ten years. If anything, I *hope* China can stop you.

  86. Nigel Depledge

    Solius (71) said:

    He will get his trial, and I suspect I won’t bode well for Pfc. Manning. I am a staunch supporter of what he did, but at the same time, he did it knowing the consequences of his actions. Private Manning chose to martyr, himself!

    Either that or he did what he felt to be the right thing irrespective of the consequences.

    Matyring oneself involves certain death. A brief perusal of Wikipedia suggests that Specialist Manning is unlikely to receive the death penalty.

    He is a brave person that demands respect.

    Agreed.

    That being said, there is not a government on the planet that wouldn’t prosecute Pfc. Manning for his actions… most would kill him!

    I think this claim needs some justification.

  87. Nigel Depledge

    Solius (71) said:

    Civil disobedience is illegal everywhere.

    Maybe so, but the response of the police to said disobedience varies dramatically. In the US, it seems that the police forces relish the opportunity to play with their latest “non-lethal” weapons.

    Peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience is mostly recognised as a powerful tool for registering protest at one’s government’s policies when official channels fail. Any violent response to civil disobedience is an obvious escalation on the part of the authorities, whether that violence is the use of pepper spray or live ammunition.

  88. Nigel Depledge

    Skydaddy (85) said:

    What are their goals? It is hard to say. But centuries ago, China had a deep-water fleet that projected naval power around the globe. Now they are building a deep-water navy. Certainly they intend to reclaim Taiwan – and will we really go to war over Taiwan?

    It would be immensely hypocritical to not go to war if the PRC invades Taiwan.

    So, no, we probably won’t go to war over Taiwan.

  89. Peter Davey

    As I meant to add to my earlier reply, the 19th Century French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville, best known for his study of the new American republic, posed the question, in study, as to whether any country governed by what he referred to as the “popular will” could maintain a “necessary continuity” in its affairs.

    We may soon be in a position to answer that question.

    Incidentally, with regard to the question of Chinese naval power, China did indeed possess a deep-water fleet, then ended up scrapping it, because of the disturbance its voyages were causing to a deeply conservative society.

    Those who learn nothing from history, or historians….

  90. Jess Tauber

    In a few years space technology will be available to anyone, and you’ll be able to get rocket engine components in boxes of CrackerJack. When the Italians finally do land on the sun (at night), THEN I’ll worry!

  91. Sam H

    Phil……look at what you’ve done here.

    (Relax; it’s natural these days :) )

  92. Jonathan G.

    @ 68: When I was a kid at the end of the Apollo era I was heartily looking forward to bases on the moon, a manned mission to Mars and all the other stuff. However, even the ardent sci-fi fan within me found it hard to believe that flying whole populations of humans to other solar systems, terraforming planets et al was a more practical option than looking after the world we’re on already. I also found the idea of wrecking colonising other planets morally dubious.

    Assuming that we work out a way to grow tomatoes on Mars and are prepared to wait six months for them to coast to Earth (given suitable alignment) then who will be able to afford them? Not the “starving millions”, that’s for sure. It’s just not practical with any technology that we can currently imagine. If some time /space / gravity defying wrinkle in the laws of physics is discovered at some point in the future then I’d suggest using it to pull tomatoes from a hat, rather than bothering to grow them on the other side of the solar system.

    I’d argue that overpopulation is a political issue, anyway.

  93. James

    @92. Jonathan

    “who will be able to afford them”

    You are assuming the human race would still be using money. By the time this sort of thing would be practical, civilisation will have gone ‘post scarcity’. Fusion will provide all the power required and Ai machines will do all the construction, farming and transportation.

    It seems unbelievable, but if you went back in time, what we can do now would seem just as unbelievable.

    If the human race wants to remain free to have families like we do today, these technological leaps are essential. We really have no other option. We either kill each other or expand our horizons.

  94. Jonathan G.

    Re James (93)

    Of course we will still have currencies, be it in numerical form, physical tech, or information – how else will we define the “haves” and “have nots”? This Utopia where everyone will be paid for sitting around doing nothing will never, ever happen – life (in all it’s forms) is all about territory and resources. It is a battle for supremacy with those around us and always will be (apologies for getting biological on an astronomy blog!).

    On a “failing to learn from the mistakes of the past” note: my father recalls the time when the first nuclear reactor went critical here in the UK. “We were as good as promised free power – enough for everyone”, he says. Of course, all they really did it for was the plutonium…

    The whole Utopia argument doesn’t really work because someone has to keep an eye on the A.I. machines that are building the tech that allows the rest of us to sit around sipping margaritas. And someone has to watch the watcher too, unless they (and the rest of us) have had all human weakness genetically removed. In which case humanity will already have become extinct.

    Tricky, isn’t it?

  95. @Nigel Depledge: Yeah?
    You try posting something that advocates actually taking action to change the status quo, and then see how closely the NSA keeps tabs on you.

    That’s kind of a moot point. There’s no way to tell whether or not the NSA is keeping tabs on you, so it’s difficult to determine just where paranoia ends and reality begins. The FBI had quite a bad record of snooping on civil rights reformers back in the 60s, but AFAIK they’re a bit less reactionary now.

    No. Listening to criticism is the key to improvement. The government of neither the US nor the UK is big on listening to its citizens, unless those citizens have flipping great wodges of cash.

    No argument there, friend. But it’s a two step process. You can’t listen to criticism if you don’t allow it in the first place.
    Also, I like that word. “Wodges”. Hehe.

    “Perhaps. I think the strongest point about the USA’s government system is the constitution. Otherwise, the US is too similar to so many other countries, in which the poorer end of the populace has no real representation.

    Again, no argument there. But it’s an ongoing struggle, and I like to think that the poorer (that is, much larger) end of the population is now waking up to the situation. The monied interests have tried to warp public perception to the point where even the apolitical are taking notice.

    Erm, Russia is a partner on the ISS, and I guess NASA cooperated with the USSR for the Apollo-Soyuz project back in the mid-70s, but never conflate Russia with the USSR.

    Erm, I’m not conflating the two. I wasn’t referring to the current Russian Republic. Yes, I was thinking of Apollo-Soyuz. Also, the US flew over 20 science experiments aboard the Cosmos series of satellites, and even prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was taken as a given that the Shuttle would dock with Mir (I can’t find the darn thing now, but just the other day I saw an “artist impression” style poster from the USSR, showcasing Mir, showing what appeared to be a US space shuttle approaching it). In 1988, Reagan and Gorbachev even discussed a possible US/Soviet mission to Mars.

  96. kevin

    @35sb my feelings exactly. deeply disappointed, p2.

  97. Rusty

    Phil, you’re the last person on the entire Interwebs I would have expected to make such a closed-minded, paranoid, xenophobic post. Is that really the American world view? Everyone is an adversary? That’s really sad.

  98. @59 James: But of course when one of your soldiers tries to reveal your military war crimes. Do you congratulate him for trying to improve the system? Nope, you lock him away without trial.

    Eh, big difference between selectively highlighting malfeasance and dumping large quantities of unrelated classified data along with what you’re trying to highlight. Any nation on earth would have put him in prison for what he did, whether or not he actually deserved it.

    When a foreign journalist publishes that information, do you hold it up as a symbol of democracy and freedom of the press? Nope, you try to get him extradited to your country, where he faces the possibility of the death penalty.
    Are you talking about Assange? Puh-leez. The only people claiming he’d face the death penalty are him and a few of his fans who are notably not lawyers. Again, you’ll struggle to find any government on earth who’d be happy about being Wikileaked.

    When your own citizens sit down in peaceful protest, what do you do? Well you pepper spray them all in the face obviously.

    That was pretty horrendous. It’s also pretty much par for the course with regard to civil disobedience. That’s why everyone remembers that protest, and why it was so effective.

    The America you are talking about may have existed once. But it is clearly moving backwards now.

    There’s a struggle going on, no question. I like to think we’re slowly making progress, hopefully it’s not one step forward and two steps back.

    Only recently one of your potential presidential candidates used homophobia as a key message in his campaign.

    And he was left in the dustbin where he belongs.

    Freedom of speech is great, but the minute it starts to harm other people, that’s where it should end.

    That’s where we’re really going to part ways. Who decides what speech harms people? Homophobia sucks, but do you want people to be prosecuted for it?

    But there is nothing bad about their current space missions.

    Agreed.

    If they want to build missiles they are more than capable of doing so, but that is not what they are doing here.

    Yes/no/kinda/maybe/maybe not. With both the former USSR and China, the space program isn’t clearly delineated from classified projects that might include military ones. This is in contrast with the US where the DOD has a space weapons program distinct from NASA. But it’s all really a moot point. The sensitivity of the USSR space program did make collaboration with NASA more difficult and time-consuming on the Russian end, but they managed it just fine.

    Personally, despite all the hand-wringing about space militarization, I’ve always thought that it was pretty natural. It’s fairly safe to assume that every nation with space launch capabilities are working on some sort of space-based military project, and I don’t really see how space-based weapons are any more scary or morally unconscionable then any other sort.

  99. Jonathan G.

    (97) Joseph G: “Personally, despite all the hand-wringing about space militarization, I’ve always thought that it was pretty natural. It’s fairly safe to assume that every nation with space launch capabilities are working on some sort of space-based military project, and I don’t really see how space-based weapons are any more scary or morally unconscionable then any other sort.”

    Agreed. While there are space related security concerns (perhaps most notably our reliance on GPS), right now I’m rather more concerned about the appearance of what appears to be state sponsored malware on the web.

  100. Pollux

    I agree that China often has very different values and moral compass that often is at odds with Western values – and any society like that rising up to take a dominant place on the world stage is of serious concern. In this I agree with Phil. China’s space efforts are not to sing an orbital version of “Kumbaya” with the rest of the space faring community.

    But then again over 100,000 civilians are dead in Iraq mainly because of a trumped-up war prosecuted by the United States. If George Bush were not president of the United States, he would probably be in The Hague under trial for war crimes. 1 in 5 American children live in poverty while obscene wealth is accrued by a tiny number of individuals. So, America knowingly conducts social cruelty and injustice both internally and internationally. As such, I’m not so sure America is in any position to claim any moral high road. I’m sure that there are many in the world who fear and loathe American dominance on the world stage, and see little overall difference between it and China.

  101. Brian Too

    China is an interesting country. They are far from being the worst actors, in terms of both state policy and outcomes. Neither are they among the best.

    China is not expansionist. Their policy of non-interference in other countries would seem to be a very good one, but we see limits to the moral good they can achieve in places like Sudan, Syria and Iran.

    The Chinese are very interested in development, reform, modernization and so forth. However they are proud and becoming quite strong. They really don’t like their failings pointed out in very public ways. The approach that works with the Chinese is to ask them what they think needs to be tackled next in China. They have a long list and mostly know what it is.

    Political reform is one of the few taboo subjects in China. They have a long, dark history of chaos, poverty and famine. Communism has done a good job over the long run of addressing those and the Chinese just aren’t ready for change in that area.

    Compare China today to where they were in 1970. You have to be blind not to see that China is a very different place now, and a much better place.

    All in all, I’m OK with the Chinese space program. But they better not repeat that stunt of blowing up a satellite in orbit. That does not respect our neighbors, our shared orbital lanes, or our comfort level that nations of great power know how to act responsibly. It was above all, not a particularly strategic, tactful, or subtle move. In some respects it was not particularly Chinese!

  102. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Adrian (45): The US shooting down a satellite was a completely different situation,

    More of that closed and targeted nationalism I find boring and dangerous. It was the same action.

    Speaking of which, spying is dangerous as well – the insecurity that follows from being spied on fuel religion in the larger society (say) but also political aggression (a large problem – see US aggressive wars).

    If we get to comparisons, China is dangerous to its own population (repression, Tibet, executions) and others (not a democracy), but US is testably more dangerous to others (Iraq war – ~ 600 000 dead according to the Lancet survey; Afghanistan war – perhaps ~ 50 000 dead trying to briefly sum up Wikipedia; torture of suspected terrorists) and somewhat dangerous to its own population (executions). So I rather pick China to antagonize.

  103. Mike

    (75). Jonathan G. said:

    “And without the Chinese your GPS handsets and televisions would be unaffordium anyway.”

    Actually, this isn’t true. The average price wouldn’t rise more then 20%. Instead of being built by human labour, things would be built by robotic assembly lines.

    Business wants to squeeze every last possible cent. After all, that’s what business is for.

  104. Melf_Himself

    This post came off as a little “fear-mongery” to me. Is this really the mood towards China in the USA right now?

  105. MH

    You post is too simplistic and naive and sweeping in respect to China and the motivation of it’s people and leaders – I think others have already hammered home on this one. In respect to why they are spending relatively modest amounts on space: the motives behind their manned programme are not hidden, here’s a link to someone who’s bothered to investigate the topic: http://allthingsnuclear.org/post/25014808697

    In a nutshell – they’re not aiming to get in a real race on something that has little current value, but they don’t want to fall too far behind. Pragmatic long term thinking, that’s the trademark of their recent administrations (mainly engineers by the way). If you look at the way the China is being run, it’s not too different from Singapore, S.Korea, or Taiwan over the past 50 years, and they turned out OK.

  106. James

    @95. Jonathan G.

    “how else will we define the “haves” and “have nots”?

    Why is that essential? That’s the whole point of post scarcity, everyone has everything they need, within reason. The kind of A.I. I’m talking about would be just as concious as we are, but generally a lot smarter than us, so there would be no need to babysit it.

    Once the requirement to work is taken away, I doubt people would sit around doing nothing. I know I wouldn’t. It would finally allow us to do the work that we would like to, instead of what we have to. There would be a lot more creativity, art and scientific advancement.

    In many ways the western would has already achieved post scarcity, compared to the rest of the world. There are also signs that the old fashioned monetary system is beginning to fall apart.

    Bringing everyone on Earth up to our high standard of living should be our ultimate goal.

  107. Sean O'Hara

    @85:

    China takes the LONG VIEW. They have a culture and a written language that dates back 2500 years. If you can read Chinese, you can read Confucius in the original – the written language has not changed.

    China undertook massive script reforms under Mao with the purpose of boosting literacy. If you only know simplified hanzi, you will not be able to read Confucius in the original. If this is the extent of your knowledge of China, you’d best stick to other subjects.

  108. Rachel

    “Speaking of which, spying is dangerous as well – the insecurity that follows from being spied on fuel religion in the larger society (say) but also political aggression (a large problem – see US aggressive wars).”

    but on the other hand, successful spying can reduce insecurity, if you can verify that someone else isn’t building up to be a threat. which leads to more peace, total obscurity or total transparency?

  109. Rachel

    “Speaking of which, spying is dangerous as well – the insecurity that follows from being spied on fuel religion in the larger society (say) but also political aggression (a large problem – see US aggressive wars).”

    but on the other hand, successful spying can reduce insecurity, if you can verify that someone else isn’t building up to be a threat. which leads to more peace, total obscurity or total transparency? Knowing that missiles weren’t coming over the pole helped keep the cold war cold.

  110. Jonathan G.

    @ 107 James: defining the “haves” and “have nots” is not a conscious act (an act of malice, if you will), it’s a defining principle that’s very hard to escape from. In humanity it defines things such as: deserving and undeserving, allies and enemies and opportunities and liabilities. In nature it might define potential mates and create a heirarchy in social groups. It’s hardwired in a double helix.

    The human condition is an interesting one. Consider:

    1) The need to “belong” to a group that is distinct from other groups within the whole. This is presumably analogous to the evolution of new species. Some may be an evolutionary “dead end”, while others may be better able to exploit a changing environment.

    2) The belief in concepts that are unsupported by any physical evidence. This is obviously an advantage to the juvenile animal, who unquestioningly accepts teaching from elders. But why does it persist so strongly into adulthood, even though the adolescent learning phase will often involve a phase of learning by experimentation?

    3) The “Worker, Soldier, Queen” paradigm. I feel that a society by definition has a heirarchy, or at least is a mechanism of specialised components. A group of equals (or “identicals”, to be more politically correct) could be likened to a colony of mold or coral. There is little group strategy, save for perhaps safety in numbers.

    4) The survival of self vs empathy for others. In any society a balance of both is required for the good of the group. This isn’t a human construct either. In fact we know we’re not very good at it so we invent religions, political dogmas and laws to shore it up. Hoever, even the most empathic society has no room for the parasitic organism. Everything has to pay it’s way – unless it’s very, very smart.

    All of these things serve to confound Utopian creators. What you’re suggesting is beating the evolutionary drive out of human society. That’s fine – in a static environment you can get away without evolution. But environments are never static.

    “Ahh, but my A.I. machines will take care of everything. There will be no tectonic movement. They will even regulate the sun’s output”

    But will they? Why would they even want to? What’s in it for them?

    “Why are you ascribing human concepts to my machines…”

    For good reason. The first gen, A.I. machines probably weren’t too bright. Technological entropy. But as well as the programming they gained from their creators they had the ability to analyse the consequences of their actions and learn from them. Occasionally a “mistake” would provide a better solution to a problem posed by their ever changing environment (remember, they won’t have learned to tame it yet). The machines get smarter and more specialised – so specialised that none of the humans can physically comprehend how they actually work. “They just do, son.” a father will say to his enquiring child. “And anyway” he continues, “it doesn’t do to ask questions. Inquiring gives us desire and desire gives us need. Need gave us Scarcity. They teach you all about that at school. We don’t want to go there again, do we?”

    “No, Dad.”

    “Good boy. Now just act like the coral and everything will be fine.”

    It sounds like the A.I. machines have become more human than the biological specimens that they serve. Let’s hope the machines remember who’s boss!

    *Descends into hammy sci-fi film*

    The trouble with most humans is that they’re smarter than the average coral polyp. That’s a very bad thing. But a very good thing too.

    I expect this Utopian world to be chock-full of art – and all of it dull and representative. But I don’t foresee any philosophy, or science. The enquring mind always asks “Is this as good as it gets?” and if the answer is “Yeah, pretty much.” then there’s no real point in asking again – and those that continue to ask will probably be considered to be rocking the boat. Fitting influencial individuals into a utopian model is hard, because Utopia is a 100% concensus, with no room for the individual.

    This is all just opinion, of course – and some or all of it may be drivel! But that’s the whole point. As soon as two people disagree on what they believe, the Utopian model breaks.

  111. @58. Karthik :

    Summary: Only Americans can go to space? and the third world countries don’t have the rights? faceplam!!

    Wow. That’ has to be the least fair and reasonable so-called “summary” of what the BA actually wrote I’ve ever seen here and bears NO resemblence to what the BA wrote in the Opening Post here at all.

    Apart fromso much else, the People’s Republic of China is a rising superpower – a totalitarian genocidal one and a global bully – not a “Third world” nation at all.

    Many nations are already co-operating in space with the USA including the Europeans, Japan, Canada and in some ways such as tracking my own nation of Australia. But you know that already really surely, Karthik?

    India too is progressing in space and that, I think is pretty much globally welcomed given India is a democracy and has a reasonable human rights record. (Caste system and extrme masses of poverty aside.) India too, unlike China has shown itself to be a reasonable citizen of our “global village” and has not attempted to threaten and occupy other sovereign nations in the same way China has and continues to do. (eg. Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan.)

    @72. Nigel Depledge :


    MTU (51) said: “The People’s Republic of China military slaughtered their own people, their own children for wanting reform and democracy that we take for granted. They piled their corpses up and ran them over with tanks and set fire to them with flamethrowers.”
    I can’t view youtube from work, but the Wiki article you link makes no mention of flamethrowers (at least, in the section to which the link sent me).

    That’s what I disntinctly & very vividly remember hearing about on the news at the time.

    However, in what way is something that happened 23 years ago relevant?

    Becauser the same (nominally) Communist Totalitarian One Party regime is stillrunning the nationand has n’t admitted or confronted that past atrocity.

    Because they’re still occupying Tibet and committing appalling violations of human rightsand freedoms there.

    Because they’re still posing a global threat to peace and security by menacing taiwan and other regiosn they cliam they have claims over despite the objections of the locals.

  112. James Davis Nicoll

    Because they’re still occupying Tibet

    Remind me, what was the target date the US set for living up to its treaty obligations to the Kingdom of Hawaii, restoring the government overthrown by the 1893 coup and removing the colonists who moved there as a consequence of that illegal action? At least with Tibet, Tibet has had the same rulers as China as far back as the 13th century, although control waxed and waned with the fortunes of the successive dynasties; Hawaii was just a barefaced land grab and I am certain the people of such a morally elevated nation such as the US would never cut themselves a special deal and subject their past to a moral standard less strict than the one they want to use on China.

    I’d to congratulate Phil on expanding past merely supplying willfully counter-factual physics explanations in exchange for getting his face on TV and moving into the potentially more lucrative field of flag-waving jingoism.

  113. ElmarM

    Uhm, China is currently in no technological position to sustain a permanent presence in space, let allone on the moon. Let me clarify. They have the technology to do it, but it would cost them so much to do so that it would not be sustainable. Their technology is no more advanced than that of Russia and even less than that of the US. If they do a moon mission, then it will be a one shot stunt for publicity, like Apollo was. They dont have a space infra structure to do more than that, just like the US did not have such an infrastructure back in the Apollo days. Therefore the result will inevitably be the same. They might land a couple of people on the moon, plant the inevitable flag, leave some footprints collect some rocks and maybe sing their national anthem for the TV cameras.
    Then they will leave again and wont go back for at least another 40 years due to cost.

  114. Brasidas

    I’m not impressed Phil. You seem to have absorbed some jingo, and some propaganda yourself.

    You say that the Chinese government “doesn’t have much concern for its people”. It’s true that it doesn’t seem to have much concern for individuals, but the Chinese as a nation are now healthier, better fed and richer than they have been for centuries (or possibly ever). They are one of the few nations trying to take on overpopulation – the world’s biggest problem.

    China seems to pose little danger to other nations. While talking belligerently about Taiwan, they haven’t invaded. Can you even count how many countries the US and its clients have attacked in living memory? How many civilians have died as a result?

    While I abhor the bad civil rights record of China, I don’t think that the only country to use nuclear weapons on civilians has much to teach anyone about respect for life. The Chinese government can find money to pay for healthcare for its people despite being poorer than the US because it doesn’t spend vast amounts of treasure on a military that’s as expensive as Russia’s, India’s, China’s, UK’s, France’s, Germany’s, Italy’, Pakistan’s and the next 12 or more countries combined. That very priority shows what the US is all about – dealing death is more important than caring for one’s people..

  115. @113. James Davis Nicoll :

    Remind me, what was the target date the US set for living up to its treaty obligations to the Kingdom of Hawaii, restoring the government overthrown by the 1893 coup and removing the colonists who moved there as a consequence of that illegal action?

    Yeah, because the situation in Hawaii is just like Tibet! NOT! :roll:

    Ridiculous so-called moral equivalence there – you don’t see the US conducting a genocide the way the PRC is – and, oh, guess if Hawaii wasn’t a US state then Obama wouldn’t be a US national now would he? Is that what you think or want? ;-)

    No, the historical situations are very different there. Noexpertonhawaiian cultureand history but I am well aware of the brutal behaviour of China and its behaviour as perhaps the worst global bully. You might want to look into that and educate yourself.

  116. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 115. Brasidas : I disagree. I think the BA’s views here were expressed very thoughtfully and are far from jingoistic.

    @102. Brian Too :

    China is an interesting country. They are far from being the worst actors, in terms of both state policy and outcomes. Neither are they among the best.

    I would say the PRC was among the worst actors – Tianamen square 1989, Tibet and their support for Syria and other to dictatroships being amongts theconsiderable weightof evidence there.

    China is not expansionist.

    Tell that to Taiwanese and Tibetans and those living in Sinkiang among others. Yes, they very much are expansionist and with a “Little Emperor” generation spoiled rotten, raised on propaganda and with a serious gender disparity issue due to large scale female infanticide and sex selection bias, I see them causing a lot of trouble for them (and by them) in the future.

    @114. ElmarM :

    Hmm.. Remember though that the PRC aren’t working with the same type of economy or economic priorities that Western nations are. They aren’t accountable to their people and their culture does, as another commenter noted, take the very long view.

    The US public might, unfathomably, have gotten bored with space exploration and turned their fickle attentions elsewhere leading to the lack of national political will to do it but I don’t think the same applies to the PRC.

    Plus China is the strongest global economic powerhouse right now too and while this will hopefully change in the future if the USA and Europe can get back on track, I don’t see the PRC’s economic power diminishing anytime soon.

  117. #113 James Davis Nicoll:
    Take a look at the state flag of Hawaii. What’s that funny red, white and blue thing in the top left corner??? That might just give you a clue, that Hawaii was a British colony, before it became an American one! So it wasn’t the US which did the original land-grabbing. Duh!!!

  118. DrB

    @119. I think you might have inadvertently helped support JDN’s point. Stating that China is worse _now_ is merely a reference to a snapshot in time and many nations/empires have matched or even exceeded their cruelty.

    It’s no different to expecting developing nations to adopt our Western views on environmental pollution when it relates to industrial output – we are where we are precisely because of the process we went through and it is intensely hypocritical to forget the past and expect better of others.

    @118. Whilst the OP might not fully match the description of jingoism it is awfully close. The idea that all Chinese space exploration is uniquely bad and most US exploration is good is highly suspect.

  119. sanjay

    Keep China engaged if they have the money they will go for it…plus also the need for urgency to get into space. Its ok to feel envious especially for the West who do not have the big budgets for space anymore. Instead of taking a jealous bitching attitude it would be more productive to engage and support China’s efforts in Space.

  120. Matt B.

    Oop, the video’s been taken down.

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