Tuesday, December 3, 2013

China to the Moon, the USA to....?

Something to think about from the Economist:

China's lunar programme
We have lift-off

IT WILL be two weeks until China can claim complete success, but its most ambitious space effort to date got off to a smooth start with a successful early morning launch on December 2nd of the Chang’e-3 lunar mission. Carried into space by an enhanced Long March-3B rocket from a base in south-west China, a six-wheeled lunar rover (pictured) is scheduled to be set on the surface of the moon in mid-December. It will be China’s first attempt at a soft landing on an extraterrestrial body.

If one wished to compare the international space race to Aesop’s famous fable about the tortoise and the hare, the only reasonable choice would be to cast China as the plodding but determined turtle. When China for the first time put a human in space, in 2003, it was achieving something the Soviets and Americans had already done more than 40 years earlier.

It has now been more than 40 years since America first put men on the surface of the moon—and then safely returned them to Earth. Yet the name China has given to its new rover may hint at a desire to stop playing the tortoise’s role: it is called Yutu, or Jade Rabbit.

The name is taken from a white pet rabbit belonging to Chang'e, the moon goddess in Chinese folklore, and was chosen because it is "a symbol of kindness, purity and agility” and “reflects China's peaceful use of space”, according to Li Benzheng, deputy commander of China’s lunar programme.


  1. OT:

    You might like this:


  2. American politicians, both left and right, have been trashing the space program since the time of Tricky Dick Nixon. The closest to honest support it has received since LBJ left office was Reagan's "Star Wars" program. We deserve the Chinese controlling the Moon, letting ourselves be ruled by the ball deprived wonders infesting the Capitol and Executive Mansion. Fortunately, I was able to restrain myself from expressing how I really feel as that much vitriol might have damaged our computers' mother boards.