Knowing Chinese makes you sexy, rich and happy :)

Shenzhou 7

September 26, 2008 – 5:40 am

shenzhou 7 lifting of the launchpad

Shenzhou 7 bringing Zhai Zhigang (翟志刚), Liu Boming (刘伯明) and Jing Haipeng (景海鹏) into space

Yesterday at 25 September at 21:10 CST Shenzhou 7 started into space. 3 astronauts are on board and the whole ride hopefully lasts 3 to 5 days. China plans to conduct its first spacewalk during this mission. This space mission features a number of firsts:

  • First Chinese spacewalk
  • First mission with 3 astronauts

So much for the simple facts.

What does Shenzhou 7 mean for Chinese spaceflight?

Some critics say China is doing nothing new. Everything they perform has been done before by NASA and Russia. While this is true, these people miss the point. Why do people take driving lessons before they are allowed on the road? Because they have to learn from the beginning. Same is true for the Chinese spaceflight. They have to learn how to do things first, later they can step on to the more advanced stuff.

The milestone on this Chinese space mission is clear. Perform a spacewalk. This is a necessary on the way to a manned space station which has been requested by the Chinese politicians. When they want to build a space station some astronauts will have to leave the divine vessel and tighten the nuts and bolts. If Shenzhou 7 goes well, we can see the proposed Chinese space station in 2010.

Will the Chinese reach the moon before the US?

Probably not. If the Chinese want to launch a Apollo style low tech mission, just go there and come back without any serious science, without a high end life support system, they might be able to do it. Although they do not have the heavy launch vehicle necessary to reach moon orbit at the moment. Such a vehicle can be built within years, the Chinese can still count on Russian support in exchange for money. However if they decide they want to make it proper and safe then there is no way China can reach our moon before the US, or NASA respectively, does. My personal guess is China wants to do it proper and the US will be first.

Does China need a manned space program?

The amount of science data returned useful for everyday life is small. But these missions have another purpose. China wants to show the world it is capable of doing great things. Investors now know there are some smart people within mainland China capable of bringing a sophisticated machine like a manned spacecraft into earth orbit. The conclusion is, research labs can be built on Chinese soil, well educated scientists are available in the Chinese workforce. This can drive the Chinese economy.

Also the Shenzhou program is very inspiring to young people. I guess a lot of kids plan a academic career in science just because they see it’s possible to get into space in China. A very inspiring move for the Chinese.

I hope everything goes well with Shenzhou 7, in a few days we can see the results. If You want to know more about the past and the future of Chinese spaceflight, check out my article about China in space.

Related Articles:

  1. 11 Responses to “Shenzhou 7”

  2. I think those dudes are called “Taikonauts” :)

    By kozen on Sep 26, 2008

  3. Taikonaut is only used in English speaking media to reference to Chinese astronauts.
    The Chinese there are two terms for astronauts.

    宇航员 yǔhángyuán – flight in universe person
    航天员 hángtiānyuán – spaceflight person

    I think this distinction into taikonaut, astronaut, cosmonaut,… is not useful. Otherwise we will see the following when more nations make it into space: Mahradjinaut (Indian Astronaut) Mohammedonaut (Arabian astronaut), Rodrigezonaut (Colombian astronaut)…

    By Hendrik on Sep 26, 2008

  4. And Raumonaut, if Germany should ever had a space flight program of its own… Otherwise, how about Euronaut for European space ppl?

    By justrecently on Sep 26, 2008

  5. Haha, in German, they’re already called Raumfahrer^^. European austronauts shall be called Spationauts – which I feel is quite a stupid name, but it’s at least more correct than astronaut when u take its acient greek meaning.

    I don’t think China only wants to show to foreigners what they can do – Chinese government needs in order to stay in power to do aggresive nation building, thus develop prestigous things like the Olympics, Space flight, fast train, high building – China’s not a democracy (yet) so th politicans don’t have to be efficient, but they need a good reputation in the crowd…

    By Aremonus on Sep 26, 2008

  6. “Will the Chinese reach the moon before the US?”

    Maybe you missed the memo, but the U.S. ‘reached’ the moon about 40 years ago.

    By JBMoney on Sep 26, 2008

  7. Question from one German to another, Junjie: Can’t we do, too? Raumanaut would be a nice standardization, and who in the world knows what a Fahrer is?

    As for reaching the moon before the US, are you referring to a manned station there? Anyway, your post has already hurt American feelings, I guess.

    By justrecently on Sep 26, 2008

  8. Germany could certainly reach the moon – if it set up its own Space Agency. But Europe already has the ESA, so why should Germany found its own?

    There are actually plans for landing on the moon in 2024, the so-called Aurora Program of ESA. Furthermore, there should be a manned Mars mission in 2030.

    But even if I like space travelling:
    Why should Europe do this? There’s very little benefit and it will be done anyway, even if Europe doesn’t do it. In an economic few, it’s just a waste of money – so it is from a scientific point of few. E.g.: The CERN is far more important for science than NASA – but it’s 30 times cheaper.
    There’s only one big advantage I see about it: European people would finally feel like European citizens – not like Germans, French and so on. But is this worth € 100 billion?

    By Aremonus on Sep 26, 2008

  9. I was just kidding… I´d blow my head if Germany would spend money of a space program of its own.
    But it´s hard to tell in advance which money is well-spent and which is a waste, as long as Europe does without mere prestige projects. And as long as there is no likelihood of technology theft, Europe should work together with all other space stakeholding countries – America, Russia, China, Japan, or India.

    By justrecently on Sep 27, 2008

  10. “Will the Chinese reach the moon before the US?”

    Uhh…dude, I’m wondering about this question – 40 years ago is calling for you…

    Oh, and calling the Apollo program low-tech…ha ha! It used cutting-edge technology in every way, shape, and form. Things were developed specifically for the program. Come on, those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.

    By vern on Sep 29, 2008

  11. Vern, at the moment, USA are not able to send anyone to the moon. Yes, of course, 40 years ago they did it with low-tech, (which is not necessarily bad, as it is better to keep things simple and stupid)their computer had a 1 MHz 8 bit CPU, e.g., the materials were far less developed than now, what makes this mission even greater than a moon mission nowadays would be. But now all the plans are destroyed and the whole stuff needs to be re-developped.

    Anyway, you can’t deny that there IS a new competition in space and it’s really gonna be interesting who will be able to reach moon first again and who builds the first moon station.
    I guess it depends quite a lot on whom will be elected for president in USA:
    If the strong nationalis McCain comes to power, I am quite sure that USA is gonna make it before China – and if it is Obama (who is more interested in helping people than in showing that USA are strong), it’s gonna be China.

    Europe is probably not going to make it first. In the Aurora project, they want to reach moon in 2024, so after USA and China.

    By Aremonus on Sep 29, 2008

  12. I guess with the statement about who is first I meant who is the first in the current ongoing spacerace to the moon.

    For all my patriotic US readers: yes you have been first in the last race to the moon against Russia.

    By Hendrik on Sep 30, 2008

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.