Saturday, June 16, 2012

China Sends 3 Taikonauts to Space

The Long March II-F rocket being transported to the launch pad. Image released June 11, 2012.
CREDIT: China Manned Space Engineering 
I previously wrote about China's plans to build their own space station to compete with the US and Russia. Today, they began the execution of the next phase of their ambitious space plan by launching 3 astronauts to space atop a Long March 2F rocket. The group of taikonauts, which includes China's first woman in space, will perform a docking maneuver with the Tiangong-1 Space Module, and live aboard the miniature space station for a short time, performing experiments. (In case you were wondering, the first woman in space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, in 1963. Sally Ride didn't blast off until 1983.)

Apparently, the successful launch elicited cheers from the Chinese control center, where Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong read an emotional and enthusiastic congratulatory statement from Chinese President Hu Jintao, who effused "I feel very glad to hear the success of launching the Shenzhou 9 manned spacecraft".

In addition to building a space station by 2020, China has previously announced plans to land on the moon by 2016. The US news coverage of this important milestone is funny to read because nearly every article ends with some sort of reassurance from "analysts" that the US is still far ahead of China in the field of space exploration and technology. This instinctive reassurance is humerous but can only mean good things for NASA. If anything can spur public support for the US space program, it's the threat of communism.

No comments:

Post a Comment