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October 1, 2010

China's Chang'e-2 to prepare for moon-landing mission

Filed under: news — Tags: — sbmzhcn @ 8:35 pm

Beijing – China is to use its Chang’e-2 lunar mission mainly to prepare for the nation’s first moon landing on the next mission scheduled to be launched by the end of 2013, officials have said.

Following the successful Chang’e-1 satellite mission from October 2007 to March 2009, the second lunar probe will test landing technology to be used on Chang’e-3 and take high-resolution photographs of the planned landing area.

Chang’e-3 is to feature a first lunar rover designed to be followed in around 2017 by another rover capable of returning to Earth with mineral samples.

‘It is estimated that Chang’e-2 can reach lunar orbit within five days,’ eight days faster than the previous probe, Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist at the China Lunar Exploration Project, told state media earlier this week.

It should achieve a minimum distance of 15 kilometres from the moon’s surface on its elliptical orbit, allowing it to take detailed images of potential landing areas for the next mission, Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the programme, told China Central Television.

‘Photos taken 15 kilometres from the moon’s surface can be very clear with a resolution of 1 metre,’ Wu said.

Once the mapping of the landing area is completed, Chang’e-2 is scheduled to move into a higher orbit of about 100 kilometres to continue studying the moon’s surface and soil.

In 2003, China became the third country to launch an astronaut into space after Russia and the United States.

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It revealed plans in 2000 for a 20-year programme to build an integrated ground-space network for space exploration and manned space research, including a permanent space laboratory by 2020.

On completion in 2013, a fourth space centre on the southern island of Hainan plans to launch China’s next generation of Long March-5 rockets designed to carry 25-ton payloads, including multiple launches of commercial satellites, large space stations and deep-space probe satellites.

There are no current plans for a manned moon landing but in June at the Global Lunar Conference in Beijing, Yu Dengyun, the deputy chief designer of the Chang’e programme, said Chinese scientists had started research on sending people to the moon.

As part of its long-term plans for deep-space exploration, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp was also researching a Mars probe and the building of a lunar base, the official China Daily newspaper quoted Yu as saying.

In an interview with the newspaper last year, Ouyang also said China had ‘no specific schedule for a manned moon landing’, despite much speculation by Chinese and foreign scientists that it was on track to land an astronaut on the moon within one or two decades.

The importance of the lunar exploration programme, which is named after a mythical goddess who flew to the moon, was underlined by Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to the Beijing mission control centre to see the first photographs sent from Chang’e-1 in November 2007.

‘Though China’s moon exploration project began much later than other countries, it is at the cutting edge in several aspects and is unique in many ways without excessive expenditure,’ Ouyang said.

He said Chang’e-1 had achieved scientific targets linked to the four main goals of the lunar programme.

It brought back data from nine million points on the lunar surface to enable the formulation of two-dimensional and three-dimensional maps of the entire surface.

Chang’e-1 also recorded chemical and mineral data for scientists to create a geological map of the moon, Ouyang said.

‘The third mission is to explore the soil layer on the moon, a pioneering work that has not been done by any other country. The Chang’e-1, using microwave technology, measured the depth of the soil layer across the moon,’ he said.

Its fourth task was to measure lunar environmental factors such as electromagnetism and solar wind, ‘which are crucial for future landings.’

Ouyang said one focus of the soil analysis would be the level of helium-3, an isotope that could be used in nuclear fusion in future decades.

Scientists have studied the potential of helium-3 for use in nuclear fusion since the 1950s, but the Earth contains only an estimated 15 tons, making the mineral a ‘holy grail’ of lunar exploration.

‘There is an abundance of helium-3, perhaps millions of tons on the moon, which could be used to generate energy once the technology matures,’ Ouyang told China Daily.

‘The moon might fundamentally change the pattern of energy generation for humans,’ he said.

August 20, 2010

China Is Crushing The U.S. In This Economic War

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — sbmzhcn @ 2:47 am

During the ‘cold war’, a term used to describe the tension between communist and capitalist countries, which lasted from 1947 to 1991, one of the fears was a military conflict between Russia or China and the U.S.

It didn’t happen. The potential of a military war instead morphed into an economic war.?

The U.S. was winning hands down for a long time – but not so much anymore. It used to be that the U.S. was #1 in pretty much everything; education, technology, standard of living, economic and military strength, admired world leadership. It was leading the rest of the world into the future with the demonstrative power of democracy and free markets, new technological breakthroughs in automation, computers, communications, energy, medicine, space travel, to name a few.

In recent years, a number of countries have surpassed the U.S. in specific areas, including consumer incomes, standard of living, and healthcare.

But the economic powerhouse has been China. Some of the statistics, and the speed with which they have changed, have been startling.

Over the last ten years China’s economy has surged past those of Canada, Spain, Brazil, Italy, France, and Germany, and is expected to pass Japan this year, to become the 2nd largest economy in the world, behind the U.S.?

Whether it’s manufacturing efficiency, high-speed rail-line technology, nuclear power plant construction, clean air energy technology, education, China is making impressive global inroads, even in areas where the U.S. still has significant dominance. Much of it has to do with China’s massive population, about which the U.S. can do nothing.

For instance, while U.S. Internet companies dominate global headlines, China now has the world’s largest internet market as measured by the number of users. Yet internet use has only penetrated 22% of the population versus 75% in the U.S. Meanwhile, U.S. Internet giants like Google, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, Facebook and Expedia are experiencing problems trying to transport their dominance into the Chinese market. Part of it is obstacles placed in their way by China’s government, in support of China’s state-controlled corporations. The result is Chinese internet companies like Tencent, and ?Baidu, cannot help but become world leaders.

Here’s a statistic of more importance. U.S. universities will graduate 150,000 engineering students this year, while Chinese universities will graduate more than 500,000. I’ve had people tell me that’s an unfair comparison since China’s population is larger by approximately the same ratio. But that’s not the issue. The issue is the degree to which China has moved higher education to the top of its priorities, and the fact that 500,000 new engineers a year will probably come up with more high-tech innovations than 150,000 can.

China’s great leap forward has been going through the same phases the early U.S. experienced as it worked toward becoming the world’s dominant economy.?

When we criticize China for the treatment of its underpaid and overworked labor force we sometimes forget that in the early years the U.S. also exploited its workers, even utilizing child labor in 14 hour days in garment, textile, and shoe factories, coal mines and crop fields, which gave the country its initial low-cost jump start economically.?

It appears China is beginning to exit that phase and enter the next, of treating its workers better. In the past year Chinese workers have been allowed to form unions and strike for higher wages and shorter hours at various auto and electronics plants.

The west would probably like to think that is due to the pressure put on China to improve human rights. However, China has never shown any inclination to bow to pressure in any area. The fact is that the next phase of China’s economic development must be, as it was in the U.S., to develop a strong domestic economy. To do so it needs to have a more prosperous population of consumers, rather than depending on low cost exports to other countries.

Meanwhile, it can be said that China is eating America’s lunch, never taking its eyes off the goal, while we squabble among ourselves, paying no attention.?

That’s unfortunate. As Sam Houston said in the U.S. Senate in 1850, “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.”

Yet, for the last 15 years the U.S. has divided itself in increasingly bitter time and energy-consuming political arguments – the morals of President Clinton – whether or not war should be waged to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq – whether the country’s current problems are due to the depth of the economic hole dug in the last Administration, or ineptness of the current Administration in pulling the economy out of the hole.

Meanwhile, China has kept its eye on the goal. It not only is making great economic strides, but on the financial side has become the world’s largest creditor nation, even as the U.S. has become the world’s largest debtor nation, with China holding much of its debt.?

The U.S. needs to interrupt its angry divisiveness and name-calling long enough to recognize the portent of what is going on. Unfortunately, in this particularly acrimonious mid-term election year, that is not going to happen.?

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