(Image: a model of the Chinese space station at the Chinese Pavilion, Hannover Expo. Credit: © Mark Wade of Astronautix.com)
While some may lament the fall of the western space age (thanks in part to the Great Depression 2.0), others may have to look east for a new hope (pun intended).
(Space Daily) China will begin the construction of its own orbital space station in 2020, the Sina news service said on Monday, citing a top official with the country’s manned spaceflight program.
Gu Yidong said that China would sent two or three space labs into orbit in 2010-2015, while the basic module of the space station is to be orbited by 2020.
The fact that China is building a space station is hardly surprising, seeing as they are not exactly allowed on the International Space Station (due to political/security reasons).
However China’s heavenly ascent is in direct contrast to what is happening in the west, as NASA is (once again) being neutered by its bureaucratic overlords.
(Physorg.com) Five years ago, then-President George W. Bush proposed returning astronauts to the moon by 2020. To pay for it, he planned on retiring the shuttle next year and shutting down the international space station in 2015. [...]
The panel also said the space shuttle should continue flying until early 2011 to finish all its space station work and that it can’t realistically retire by Oct. 1, 2010 as the Bush administration planned.
The panel called “unwise” the Bush plan to shut down the space station in 2015 and steer it into the ocean, after 25 years of construction and only five years of fully operational life. The space station’s life should be extended, the panel said.
Note: Emphasis mine
Instead of the US canceling the International Space Station (especially with cheaper and safer models coming from the private sector), our glorious government is content to spend more money ensuring that we encircle the globe for the next few decades.
While NASA does have ambitious goals of eventually establishing a moon base, it can not do that without sacrificing the “fat,” and seems more concerned with offending international partners than advancing into the heavens beyond.
NASA’s hope may lie in partnering with the private sector, but unless they receive greater backing from their political superiors, the future citizens of the solar system may be reading space history in Chinese rather than English.