Saturday, September 27, 2008
On Thursday the Chinese launched a manned rocket & today they have done a spacewalk. This was mentioned on the BBC News for the first time this morning, as almost the last item. I put a comment on the BBC's Nick Robinson blog in response to his statement that the credit crunch is "the only story in the world". I think when history come to judge it China's space programme will be seen as more important. A previous comment from me on there was disallowed so we will see if this is.
Space development is the single most important extension of human activity since we left Africa & possibly since we left the trees. China is clearly committed to participating in it. I wish we were too. If not we will be seeing a more important & probably longer lasting cultural change than happened when Vasco da Gama & Columbus set up European hegemony of the world. As a human being i do not resent China doing this, as a Briton I resent that our establishment isn't & I resent the parochialism of our media who so downplay it.
Last December I predicted:
"The Chinese do something really big in space & this encourages everybody to take space development seriously (I think this is quite likely - China is clearly pulling out all the stops to look good over the Olympics & if they were to do something spectacular the the US plainly can't - launch a genuinely reusable shuttle, start their own space station, land a vehicle on the Moon - a month either way they would certainly manage that)."
This is a bit less spectacular & my guess is that they had originally intended to do it during or on the last day of the Olympics but didn't quite manage it. If so they are pushing their technical capacity which proves that they are not unbeatable but also that they are committed to doing it. I have no doubt they could be beaten by government supported X-Prizes but very great doubts that they will be.
The first US spacewalk was in 1965 & 4 years later they landed on the Moon. Because the technology has improved since then the time scale should, if anything, be shorter but a Chinese Moon landing by 2012 seems likely.
My second comment on the BBC blog has been disallowed. With another one elsewhere that is 3 out of 3 censored.