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China Launches Manned Space Mission
October 14, 2003 6:39 PM   Subscribe

China Launches Manned Space Mission

Godspeed, Yang Liwei.
posted by Argyle (50 comments total)

 
Hurray for spacetravel. Anything that increases the chance that I'll get to space in my lifetime is extra fine by me.
posted by maniactown at 6:51 PM on October 14, 2003


Congratulations! Let's hope this spurs the rest of the world to get their space programs back in gear.
posted by revbrian at 6:54 PM on October 14, 2003


From http://www.rednova.com/news/stories/1/2003/10/14/story101.html

Quote:
"We may be in a race, but the Chinese have about four decades of catching up to do before they're even in the same lap we're in," Pike said. "We're leading in the Firecracker 500, and the Chinese are out running some demolition derby on a dirt track."

That's ironic considering that China has just successfully done something the US cannot do right now: get someone into orbit.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 6:56 PM on October 14, 2003


Good story about it in the Science Times section of the NYT today, also.
posted by GriffX at 7:03 PM on October 14, 2003


I wonder if he can see his house from up there.
posted by keswick at 7:08 PM on October 14, 2003


this is cool...I've heard they want a permanent lunar colony too. (and someone just lost their chance to be another Kennedy in the new space race, i think)
posted by amberglow at 7:11 PM on October 14, 2003


An hour after he lands, they're gonna wanna launch him again.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:15 PM on October 14, 2003


dipsomaniac: U.S. can send people in orbit, but recently bringing them down has become more difficult...but hopefully nothing bad will happen to chinese,american or *insert your country* astronauts.

keswick: guess he's taking pictures of the Great Wall instead ? :) Assuming he has got some kind of window.

I wish that guy the best, go space exploration go we need a target that is less delusional than eradicating terrorism.
posted by elpapacito at 7:17 PM on October 14, 2003


"Our long-term goal is to set up a base on the moon and mine its riches for the benefit of humanity."

Now, maybe I'm talking crazy here, but if they take matter away from the moon and bring it on down to earth, doesn't that screw with the tides and stuff in the long run?
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:36 PM on October 14, 2003


That's ironic considering that China has just successfully done something the US cannot do right now: get someone into orbit.

I think where we're stuck right now is getting them *back*
posted by scarabic at 7:36 PM on October 14, 2003


That's ironic considering that China has just successfully done something the US cannot do right now: get someone into orbit.

Huh?

I think where we're stuck right now is getting them *back*

20+ years with dozens and dozens (a guess) of missions, and only two accidents (speaking specifically of the Shuttle program), would be a dream scenario for the Chinese.
posted by Witty at 7:50 PM on October 14, 2003


Joey, the moon masses 73,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg. I wouldn't worry too much about tidal effects if I were you. I would, however, consider purchasing an encyclopedia or something.
posted by ook at 7:51 PM on October 14, 2003


Wow, the dream of manned exploration moves one step closer to reality. China has everything to gain with its ambitious space plans and seems to be the only government serious about building a permanent moonbase.

This is cause for celebration. Its especially uplifting after the US has spent the last couple of years at war and the US's loss of its own spacefleet. Not to mention there are no ambitious projects anymore. Spacefaring has been distilled to the tight economics of launching commercial satellites and the scientific probes.

This is a great day for humanity and I hope all goes well for the Chinese space team.

I'm very much in awe. Is the technology old and the accoplishment something of the past? Sure. Is anyone else serious about spacefaring? No. China is quickly entering the 21st century through this, liberalizing its markets, and lately bowing down to protesters in Hong Kong. The future looks bright once again.

Also, as far as the "four decades" argument goes, its bunk. China doesn't have to reinvent the wheel it can buy the tech or import Russian or Europeans if not American experts to help them.
posted by skallas at 7:52 PM on October 14, 2003


ook: Joey, the moon masses 73,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg. I wouldn't worry too much about tidal effects if I were you. I would, however, consider purchasing an encyclopedia or something.

An encyclopedia? Is that one of those things I'd have to know how to read to use?
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:55 PM on October 14, 2003


Yay for China!
Boo, US and Russia.
posted by signal at 7:56 PM on October 14, 2003


I'm happy that "taikonaut" has gone from being a theoretical proposition into a line of work.

Not speaking any Chinese language, does "Yang Liwei" have a meaning apart from being a name? Just curious if it's a specially good name for a spacefarer.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:57 PM on October 14, 2003


Feh. Sarcasm detector is on the fritz again. Polageez.
posted by ook at 8:05 PM on October 14, 2003


An hour after he lands, they're gonna wanna launch him again.

You make me laugh, Mr. Davis.
posted by anathema at 8:18 PM on October 14, 2003



That's ironic considering that China has just successfully done something the US cannot do right now: get someone into orbit.


Bah! If we really wanted to, we could just pay the Russians to send them up for us. Outsourcing, baby!
posted by electro at 8:19 PM on October 14, 2003


The Chinese might be a few laps behind, but that doesn't prevent them from overtaking the US, they don't have to do the groundwork or pioneering R&D that USSR and USA did. They have arguably safer and economically sounder spacecrafts than USA and way more political will to make things happen. "...you better learn to like them, that's what I say"
posted by lazy-ville at 8:23 PM on October 14, 2003


I cant find any video online or even on television but yahoo's slideshow has shots of the launch and of the taikonaut in his capsule in space.
posted by skallas at 8:24 PM on October 14, 2003


::lifts glass in congratulations::
posted by bshort at 8:30 PM on October 14, 2003


Now, maybe I'm talking crazy here, but if they take matter away from the moon and bring it on down to earth, doesn't that screw with the tides and stuff in the long run?

Yes absolutely, did you see that part in The Time Machine? Moon crashes to earth and screws everything up.

China doesn't have to reinvent the wheel it can buy the tech or import Russian or Europeans if not American experts to help them.

The Yahoo article says "Beijing insists everything sent into space will be developed and made in China. State media, trying to dispel suggestions that its triumph depends on foreign know-how, refer to Shenzhou as 'China's self-designed manned spaceship.'" They did get the Russians to train some astronauts, though.

Anyway, this is cool, good for them.
posted by azimuth at 8:36 PM on October 14, 2003


ROU_Xenophobe: Without any information on what tones or which characters were used, I can't tell exactly. But the common surname "Yang" [willow] is a homophone for [sun]. With the other two characters I'm guessing "Li" is "strength" or "aid", and "wei" is "useful". Pretty generic all around for a Chinese name.
Also, Chinese parents seldom name their children anything that might even potentially, by way of homophones and whatnot, sound unlucky. So no bizarre Eastern astrological worries there.

I hope this launch gives the U.S. even more incentive to restart manned spaceflight.
posted by casarkos at 8:37 PM on October 14, 2003


Now, maybe I'm talking crazy here, but if they take matter away from the moon and bring it on down to earth, doesn't that screw with the tides and stuff in the long run?

I believe space rocks crashing down onto the moon's surface would more than make up for that.
posted by VeGiTo at 8:41 PM on October 14, 2003


I'm just wondering- how does one actually verify that this man is in space? Wouldn't it be entirely possible for China to doctor up a few photos and tell everyone that they've sent someone into space?
posted by Pharkas at 8:41 PM on October 14, 2003


Well, we have cameras, and telescopes to attach them to....
posted by bshort at 8:45 PM on October 14, 2003


I'm just wondering- how does one actually verify that this man is in space? Wouldn't it be entirely possible for China to doctor up a few photos and tell everyone that they've sent someone into space?

well sure, that's what we did.
posted by azimuth at 8:48 PM on October 14, 2003


""We're leading in the Firecracker 500, and the Chinese are out running some demolition derby on a dirt track.""

Considering Challenger and Columbia, never mind any number of early tests, I think "Firecracker 500" is an extraordinarily bad name.

Furthermore, there's one simple thing to remember about orbital launchers. If you have a rocket able to put a man into orbit, you can put a nuclear weapon anywhere on the planet.

That, in the end, was the real point of the space race.
posted by eriko at 8:48 PM on October 14, 2003


ROU_Xenophobe: I used the phrase as an allusion to the past.

When John Glenn launched to become the first American to orbit (third American in space), the flight director said "Godspeed, John Glenn" as he cleared the tower.

Just as Glenn carried the hopes of America, Yang has carried the hopes of the China into space.
posted by Argyle at 8:56 PM on October 14, 2003


This is very good, but we should already have people on Mars; we should be doing serious work on getting asteroids from between Mars and Jupiter and mining them. We should have had outposts and observatories on the Moon by now. I know I'm never getting out of the Solar System (or even off this beloved rock of ours,) but somebody's got to.

We should never have let up. Not because someone else might surpass us, but because it's too important a thing not to do. It isn't like there aren't capable people everywhere willing to risk their lives to get out there.
posted by trondant at 9:06 PM on October 14, 2003


Pharkas you're talking like the Flat Earth Society, which consisted of people who argued that the U.S. never had a space program and that the entire thing was fabricated to get the world to believe this fallacy that the Earth was round. Word has it they were funded by the Illuminati.

China's success this week should make us Americans realize that just because we have occasionally suffered great losses in the space program (and even one life is a great loss), it doesn't mean we shut down manned exploration for a few years while talking heads chew their cud. There's being cautious and there's being paralyzed with fear. We must get back up there and soon. We learn by making mistakes. We learn from our mistakes and improve our efforts and our chances. We can still continue moving forward while digesting the lessons learned from Challenger and Columbia.

I hope someday it won't be "China" or "America" or "Russia" exploring space, but "Earth" and the diversity of its human population, that reaches up together to touch the face of God. The odds of you or me being able to get into space within our lifetime? Those odds are in direct proportion to the odds of the international community sincerely working together. The more members of humanity suckling at the teat of "us vs them" mentality, the less those odds are. If only aliens would finally show and be imposing but ultimately conquerable enemies. It might be the only thing that'd keep us from destroying each other.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:07 PM on October 14, 2003


I'm just wondering- how does one actually verify that this man is in space? Wouldn't it be entirely possible for China to doctor up a few photos and tell everyone that they've sent someone into space?

I remember seeing some years ago a show about how at NORAD they track every damn thing up in orbit that they can get a fix on. I believe they mentioned one particular object which was a screwdriver that an astronaut accidentally let go of when on a spacewalk.

So if they faked it, we'd probably call bullshit on their asses.
posted by beth at 9:09 PM on October 14, 2003


Godspeed, but time to
Time short Sirius & XM Satellite Radio
posted by BentPenguin at 9:18 PM on October 14, 2003


Some illumination of the quasi-Russian origins (Soyuz) of the Shenzhou. It's clear there has been much cooperation with the Russians, one way or another, but at the same time China has plenty of its own launch experience by now and, Pharkas, most observers have considered them fully capable of crewed launch for some time already. (The crewed launch program has been labeled "imminent" for about 15 years now.) Besides, in practical terms, you don't even need NORAD (or sophisticated eyes in the sky) to know there's a satellite up there -- you can track them from your backyard if so inclined.

Yes, the old Red China would have been scrutinized quite closely, especially since its paranoiac secretiveness surpassed even the Soviet Union back in the day. And people believe to this day the USSR lied about its early space program.

Oh, and beth, today it isn't NORAD but its post-Cold-War spinoff, the USAF Space Command, and they track stuff as small as 10cm. The screwdriver came from STS 51-I and like most small debris re-entered within a year.
posted by dhartung at 9:31 PM on October 14, 2003


Wow. Next thing you know they'll be reinventing movable type, the cotton gin and the internal combustion engine! We'd better look to our laurels, and quick!

No, really, by the time they've managed to reproduce a feat that the US accomplished decades ago, i.e. visit a barren orb, we'll have figured out how to synthesize entire universes to our exact specifications, right down to the desired laws of physics.

Okay, I'm lying. But hey, it sounded good.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:46 PM on October 14, 2003


debris, eh?
posted by dorian at 9:48 PM on October 14, 2003


Not to mention there are no ambitious projects anymore.

X-Prize, anyone? Supposedly, Rutan will launch before December. Armadillo's not far behind.

The US isn't far behind, it's just taken a number of years to get the program into the free market.
posted by SpecialK at 10:09 PM on October 14, 2003


Right, let's try again:

Oh yeah? Well what if they have taken up the challenge we've all but abandoned? At least we're a democ---

Oh, wait...
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:25 PM on October 14, 2003


I, for one, congratulate China on their efforts thus far. It will take awhile for them to get to where we have been, but maybe they can learn from our mistakes and triumphs. Maybe China, Russia/former Soviet countries, and the U.S. can all learn from each other and help each other.

I see both a cause for celebration and a cause for hope.
posted by schlaager at 11:29 PM on October 14, 2003


This coupled with the work done by private consortiums on the X Prize has the potential to re-ignite the space race.
posted by PenDevil at 12:52 AM on October 15, 2003


Just a couple of weeks ago, I was pointing out the moon's crescent and commenting to my little boy about how excited I was at his age when the Apollo astronauts were walking on the moon and how I thought that by the twenty-first century I'd be able to visit or maybe even live there. But then, he was so obsessed with playing his Gameboy that he hardly paid any attention to me.
posted by alumshubby at 4:27 AM on October 15, 2003


This is very good, but we should already have people on Mars

One strategy, pass this on:

Dear Mr.President, I have come across an aging PhD thesis which leads me to believe that Osama bin Laden is currently hiding somewhere on Mars, and which has been confirmed by MI6. I would be happy to support any invasion by US forces,

your friend,
Tony
posted by biffa at 5:34 AM on October 15, 2003


ROU_Xenophobe: I used the phrase as an allusion to the past.

As a certified space nut, I recognized it.

Considering how the Chinese government likes a bit of extra publicity when it can get it, I wouldn't have been surprised for them to have picked a First Taikonaut with a name that meant something like "Swiftsure Star" or another name that was chock full of astro goodness. (thanks casarkos)

At least they didn't pick Wong Wei, who hit our electronic intel plane a while back...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:51 AM on October 15, 2003


good luck
posted by clavdivs at 7:42 AM on October 15, 2003


That's beautiful, biffa.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:42 AM on October 15, 2003


Blah blah space blah blah rockets blah blah orbit.

Hey you gee whiz smart guys... how about instead of goofing around on that laser powered model airplane you find a way to get me through airport security in a sane amount of time?
posted by wfrgms at 10:48 AM on October 15, 2003


>But then, he was so obsessed with playing his Gameboy that he hardly paid any attention to me.

You've got quite an existentialist on your hands. He probably won't land on the moon either so he's building mental wealth through imagination via gaming. Sure beats lamenting about what hasn't been.
posted by skallas at 11:49 AM on October 15, 2003


Yawn. The Federation still won't contact us until we demostrate warp capability.
posted by scarabic at 3:43 PM on October 15, 2003


China's space mission could trigger a military build-up by Washington
posted by homunculus at 4:49 PM on October 16, 2003


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