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China this morning sucessfully sent on its way the Chang'e One lunar orbiter from the southwestern province of Sichuan, amid much patriotic trumpeting of the country's technological prowess. According to Reuters, the 10.05 GMT launch of the 2,300kg orbiter atop a Long March 3A rocket was watched by thousands of space …

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China can't help being part of the space race

Without the Cold War there never would have been a space program, let alone a Lunar exploration program. What spurred the early efforts of the US and USSR in the late 1950's were the possibilities for espionage and the launching of thermonuclear weapons from orbit. Alan Shepard and John Glen eventually got off the launch pad when they did simply because the US had been upstaged by the USSR time and again.

The first launches on both sides were unqualified disasters. Still the program went on, and eventually resulted in men on the moon, probes landing on Venus, robots on Mars, and interstellar probes that are now way past the borders of our solar system. But had the space program started right now, surely it would have been abandoned after the third or so subsequent launch failure.

We need competition in order to make progress, it seems. Unfortunately the Russians are no longer our favorite enemies, but fortunately this role has been taken over by China, the last Communist super power in the world. Let's hope their space program is very succesful, and that it will serve as an incentive for everyone else to make serious work of Lunar and space exploration.

Heinlein said it years ago: we will conquer space, but it remains to be seen what will become the Lingua Franca of space. Chances are it won't be English, but Russian or Chinese instead.

And that's fine with me. If others are too shortsighted to invest in space exploration, let evolution do its thing. Home Galactica will be naturally selected for brains and guts. If the Chinese get there ahead of the rest of the pack, that's obviously where they are supposed to be.

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Competition: X-Prize

It's exactly what this stuff is all about.

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Mining Helium?

Imagine all the fun those miners will have, with their squeaky-voiced japes and Joe Pasquale impressions.

The fun will never stop.

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Alien

Any answers for conspiracy theorists?

Is there any chance that this probe will be able to take close-up pictures of the surface and prove once and for all whether that US flag is there!?

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Alien

Re: Any answers for conspiracy theorists?

Of course the US flag isn't there, aliens dropped by and took it and sold it on the Alien equivalent of Ebay to some spoilt rich alien kid to have in his bedroom.

I thought everyone knew that?

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Re: Any answers for conspiracy theorists?

I know the moon looks pretty small from here, but it's actually quite big, and it'd take some doing to find the exact spot that the flag was "planted".

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Paris Hilton

Any answers for conspiracy theorists?

That is of course assuming the Chinese probe actually does to the moon. Maybe they'll just create the images and film in the studio? So, who checks the checker?

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Black Helicopters

Never mind the US flag Lee....

....are the lunar landers there, and hoofmarks that look as though Neil Armstrong might actually have been there?

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Per Ardua Ad Astra

"China will not be involved in a Moon race with any other country and in any form."

Yeah right. If they keep hitting their set targets, the Chinese will land a manned mission to the moon in 2017, a bare couple of years before NASA plan to do the same (stop sniggering at the back).

But hey, if competition, even just national pissing competition stimulates space exploration, then yay! And about fucking time too.

Go China.

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Anonymous Coward

"..., amid much patriotic trumpeting of the country's technological prowess."

This seems to have fallen off yesterday's story about the Shuttle launch before it was published. How strange to find it climbing into this story here.

Or are you suggesting there are no patriots left in the USA?

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Alien

I thought the bad guys from Krypton got the US moon flag back in the 80's

KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!

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