The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Space Race Part II?

You all might be wondering that I haven't posted anything on China putting a man in space. The Economist puts it best with their cover story this week: "Congratulations China! (Now can we stop sending you aid?)"

This shows that China has reached a certain level of technical achievement, and honestly not much else. Their spacecraft is a modified Soyez, and it was launched on one of their Long March expendable rockets. It's strictly business as usual for the space game, it adds nothing significant to what we've already got.

Some commentators have been talking about the second "Space Race", but that's not going to happen, at least not with the current players. The shuttle is a dead end. In the past 12-15 years, NASA has started FOUR projects to develop a replacement, and they have all been cancelled due to sky-rocketing costs and shrinking payloads.

The only thing that will actually turn us into a space-faring culture is to drastically bring down launch costs. NASA is so tied down by bureaucracy that they are incapable of doing this, and their reach is long enough to make it difficult for anyone else to do it. And a few Chinese in orbit won't do it either.


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