August Moon

Contributed by
Dec 29, 2005

According to this article, China will be launching a lunar orbiter in 2007 (just a year before NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter).

Will China send men to the Moon? They're gonna try. To give you a sense of a timeline, the U.S. sent its first probe to the Moon in July 1964, five years before landing men. That was very early in the space age, and the probe was an impactor, which is somewhat easier than an orbiter (though not terribly easy). Two years later the U.S. launched a lunar orbiter (the Soviets were somewhat ahead of the U.S. in unmanned lunar probes at that time, but their manned program -- which ironically was ahead of the U.S. in the early 60s -- had lagged far behind the American effort by then). Three years after that, Neil Armstrong took his small step.

Technology is better now, and the Chinese have our own experience at their disposal (well, it's not like we're sharing secrets, but a lot of knowledge is online). I wonder how long it will actually take them to plant their flag?

This all reminds me of the scene in Arthur C. Clarke's book (not the movie) "2010", when the U.S./Soviet mission to Jupiter is passed by a Chinese mission that the other team had no clue about. Hmmm.

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