On the Fourth Manned Mission the Chinese Dock to their soon to be Space Station

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 17th, 2012

Week in Review

There are two space stations.  One international.  And one Chinese (see Shenzhou-9 docks with Tiangong-1 by Jonathan Amos posted 6/18/2012 on BBC News).

China’s Shenzhou-9 capsule, with its crew of three, has docked with the Tiangong-1 space lab…

It is China’s fourth manned mission and another opportunity to see how far the Asian nation has developed its space technology…

The lab is a prototype for the type of modules the nation hopes to join in orbit later this decade to form a permanently manned space station.

At about 60 tonnes in mass, this proposed station would be considerably smaller than the 400-tonne international platform operated by the US, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan, but its mere presence in the sky would nonetheless represent a remarkable achievement.

Remarkable indeed.  But what does it mean?  No room at the International Space Station for the Chinese?  Or do the Chinese just want to conduct their experiments in secret?  And if so, why?  Or is it just national pride?  To show that Chinese technology is among the best in the world?  Whatever the reason one thing is for sure.  It’s getting crowded in space. 

Space programs are expensive.  That’s why we cancelled the last Apollo moon missions.  And the Space Shuttle program.  We joined the International Space Station to share resources.  And costs.  Will the Chinese, too, suffer budget shortfalls and have to scale back their space program?  Or will they give up buying U.S. bonds to plug their budget holes?

There’s a woman onboard this mission.  Which is almost as remarkable as is this space achievement.  For they may discriminate against women in the womb.  But if they make it out of the womb a woman clearly has the same opportunities a man has.  Considering a lot of astronauts/cosmonauts are old ex-fighter pilots with combat experience (in the early days of manned space flight, at least) it says a lot that a young woman was on the 4th manned mission.  Then again, the communists are progressives.

Let’s hope that the Chinese come to space like everyone else.  In peace.

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