Tuesday, October 14, 2003

The Chinese are about to put a man into space! In itself this is not particularly momentus, it comes 40 years after the Soviets sent Yuri Gagarin into space and will be achieved using technology purchased from the cash-strapped Russian programme. However it does give some indication of the determination of the Chinese to be seen as the equal of the West and especially of the US. If great powers have space programmes, then China must have a space programme and, if the reports are to be believed, they are deadly serious. Rumours abound on the net that they're going to send someone to the moon within the next decade! In any event, rocketry is not exactly a safe science and at the moment my thoughts are with Yang Liwei, thought to be the man destined to become the first 'taikonaut'.

It will be interesting to see whether China's efforts provide a much needed spur to NASA's moribund manned space programme. Another space race is out of the question but the prospect of red China establishing a moon base or getting to Mars first might give Uncle Sam a kick in the rear. Something for the next generation of rocket scientists to think about.

Speaking of space, Nigeria kicked off its space programme 2 weeks ago by launching a British-made satelite into orbit. I'm not quite sure what the Nigerians are up to with this one. The Economist speculates that this may be another 'prestige' project, of the type that have plagued Nigeria in the past. Nevertheless, for the paltry sum of $13 million dollars it could probably be considered good advertising for the country and, if it all works as advertised, could even earn its keep.


Post a Comment

<< Home