Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shooting the moon

China's space programme

Shooting the moon

Sep 25th 2008 | BEIJING

China’s latest spectacular: a walk in space

Worries in America are likely to grow if China’s space programme keeps up its steady pace of development. Subsequent Shenzhou missions are expected to focus on building a space station. Another programme, which began last October with the launch of a lunar probe called Chang’e, aims to put an unmanned rover on the surface of the moon around 2017 and return it to earth with samples.

Jiao Weixin of Peking University says that with the development in the next few years of a new rocket, the Long March V, with a heavier lift capability, “it’s a matter of time” before China formally announces plans for landing a man on the moon. According to the Washington Post, Michael Griffin, the head of America’s space agency, NASA, has given warning that if China were to achieve this before the return of a manned American spacecraft to the moon for the first time since 1972, “the bare fact of this accomplishment will have an enormous, and not fully predictable, effect on global perceptions of US leadership in the world.” The newspaper said this comment appeared in a draft of a statement Mr Griffin was preparing to submit to Congress this year, but it was deleted by White House budget officials.

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