Obama To China: Lets Go To Mars

Posted by on May 10, 2011 in China, Mars | 0 comments

Right after the heels of making one gutsy call, the President is now asking Congress to partner with their beloved frenemy to help conquer the red planet.

“[What] the president has deemed worth discussing with the Chinese and others is that when the time comes for humans to visit Mars, it’s going to be an extremely expensive proposition and the question is whether it will really make sense — at the time that we’re ready to do that — to do it as one nation rather than to do it in concert,” [White House science adviser John] Holdren said in response to a question from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), a staunch China critic who chairs the powerful subcommittee that oversees NASA spending. (Space.com)

 

Note: Italicized text inserted by me for clarification.

While the idea of landing a man (or woman) on Mars appeals to many people, a few prominent voices would rather visit the crimson world minus help from the Chinese despite the latter’s thriving economy.

“When you say you want to work in concert, it’s almost like you’re talking about Norway or England or something like that,” an irate Wolf told Holdren, repeatedly pounding a hand against the table top in front of him. “As long as I have breath in me, we will talk about this, we will deal with this issue, whether it be a Republican administration or a Democrat administration, it is fundamentally immoral.” (Space.com)

Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.) isn’t exactly fond of China’s human rights record, and views the Chinese government as “fundamentally evil” (a view shared by many Congressmen and women).

Despite the cost of a Martian expedition, NASA may not need help from the Asian giant as SpaceX could light the way for a Martian expedition by 2031 (if not sooner), especially considering that rocket prices from SpaceX are a lot less expensive than America’s eastern rival.

Regardless whether NASA partners with China or not, the space agency needs to first prove that they can safely reach the red planet without being irradiated en route (not to mention set up an outpost upon Deimos which could be the key towards conquering the red planet).

Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

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SpaceX To Skeptics: We Can Beat China

Posted by on May 4, 2011 in China, Space Industry | 0 comments

SpaceX has sent out a press release aimed at silencing the chatter that the young rocket company prices are “too good to be true” (since not even China can match SpaceX’s prices).

However in the process of defending the reputation of his rocket company, CEO Elon Musk does reveal a few interesting tidbits about SpaceX that may have rivals rethink their current practices within the industry.

The price of a standard flight on a Falcon 9 rocket is $54 million. We are the only launch company that publicly posts this information on our website (www.spacex.com). We have signed many legally binding contracts with both government and commercial customers for this price (or less). Because SpaceX is so vertically integrated, we know and can control the overwhelming majority of our costs. This is why I am so confident that our performance will increase and our prices will decline over time, as is the case with every other technology.

 

The average price of a full-up NASA Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station is $133 million including inflation, or roughly $115m in today’s dollars, and we have a firm, fixed price contract with NASA for 12 missions. This price includes the costs of the Falcon 9 launch, the Dragon spacecraft, all operations, maintenance and overhead, and all of the work required to integrate with the Space Station. If there are cost overruns, SpaceX will cover the difference. (This concept may be foreign to some traditional government space contractors that seem to believe that cost overruns should be the responsibility of the taxpayer.) […]

 

SpaceX has been profitable every year since 2007, despite dramatic employee growth and major infrastructure and operations investments. We have over 40 flights on manifest representing over $3 billion in revenues. […]

 

China has the fastest growing economy in the world. But the American free enterprise system, which allows anyone with a better mouse-trap to compete, is what will ensure that the United States remains the world’s greatest superpower of innovation. (SpaceX)

 

Note: Emphasis theirs.

Truthfully SpaceX probably would not post prices online if they were not confident that they could service their clients at those rates (as changing prices “midway” can open ones self to a plethora of lawsuits).

While SpaceX’s press release will not satisfy skeptics (something their first successful rocket launch was supposed to do), it may help encourage the rocket industry to become much more transparent with their prices (as forcing tax payers to fork out extra cash is a great to kill off public trust for private space companies).

With the space race heating up between the US and China (note: Russia is apparently having a few difficulties), America will need companies like SpaceX to help us not only get back to the Moon, but also help our species settle Mars without breaking the bank.

Image Credit: SpaceX

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China See’s 20/20 With Upcoming Space Station

Posted by on Mar 15, 2011 in China, Space Stations | 2 comments

After being denied access to the ISS (or International Space Station) orbiting the heavens above, China is not scheduling to build their own space station about a decade from now.

China is ready to carry out a multiphase construction program that leads to a large space station around 2020. As a prelude to building that facility, China is set to loft the Tiangong-1 module this year as a platform to help master key rendezvous and docking technologies.

During the projected one- to two-year lifetime of Tiangong-1 — which means “Heavenly Palace” in Chinese — an unpiloted Chinese Shenzhou-8 spacecraft will first attempt to dock with the platform, to be followed later by two piloted Shezhou missions to further hone rendezvous and docking skills. (Space.com)

When completed the space station will allow 3 taikonauts (or Chinese astronauts) to survive up to 40 days in orbit (although the “first piece” will give taikonauts 20 days of life).

China has not indicated whether they will open up the space station to the Chinese private sector, although the People’s Republic has hinted about using it as a means to “strengthen exchanges” with other space faring nations.

While the Chinese space station is not as impressive as the Genesis space stations from Bigelow Aerospace, it’s construction will provide China with some of the critical details needed in order to survive upon the Moon.

Image Credit: CCTV

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Chinese Space Station: One Step Down, A Few More To Go

Posted by on Aug 19, 2010 in China, Space Stations | 0 comments

After announcing plans of creating their own space station, the Asian giant has completed its the first step (of many) in creating their own habitat beyond the sky.

China has completed assembling its Tiangong-1 space module, the Chinese Defense Ministry said on Tuesday. […]

Tiangong, or the Heavenly Palace, will later be transformed into a manned space lab after experimental dockings with three Shenzhou spacecraft due to be launched into space within two years after the module is put into space, the Chinese Space Daily said earlier. (RIA Novosti)

Although the overall craft isn’t as glorious as Bigelow Aerospaces stations or the International Space Station (which China is currently banned from), it is impressive that China is planning on launching this by 2011.

While China’s solo approach may not have been their preferred path, it’s ending up being a blessing in disguise as it could help the nation conquer the final frontier sooner (despite the global recession).

(via Space Fellowship, Image Credit: Xinhua)

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No Bachelor's Allowed: Chinese Astronauts Must Be Married?

Posted by on May 12, 2010 in Blog, China | 1 comment

(Image: Zhai Zhigang waving from outside the Shenzhou 7 spacecraft, Credit: CCTV / Xinhua)

Probably seen as America’s biggest space rival, China has recently emerged as a major space power after conducting their first space walk in 2008 (not to mention launching a lunar satellite around the Moon).

With future plans of launching a space station and sending Taikonauts (aka Chinese astronauts) to the Moon, China is going to need a lot of space pioneers–provided they are hitched to a spouse.

(Space.com) Earlier this year, Chinese space officials said that one requirement for China’s first female astronauts was that they were married, a requirement that is also upheld for China’s male astronaut candidates.

Excluding the single masses from participating in the final frontier may sound like an odd rule, especially when you consider the fact that there are numerous single males in China on the prowl (which is of itself a major issue).

However by requiring Taikonauts to be married, China could be planning on moving families off world in the not so distant future (a strategy that may help them establish a permanent presence on both the Moon and Mars).

Note: To my knowledge neither NASA or Russia require their astronauts and cosmonauts to marry, respectively, although the Chinese are insisting that married astronauts are better than bachelors (at least psychologically).

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Video: Chinese View On Landing People On The Moon

Posted by on Mar 16, 2010 in Blog, China, Moon, Video | 2 comments

Now that China is an official space power, some may wonder how the citizens of this great nation view their countries attempt to land a man (or a woman) on the moon.

Here is a brief video highlighting not only China’s accomplishments, but also views from its citizens (both young and old).

Only time will tell whether China lands a man (or woman) upon the Moon, but hopefully they will not repeat America’s mistake and consider inhabiting upon Earth’s little sister instead of merely visiting her.

(via Spaceports)

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