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back to article China plots 2017 mission to plan MOON COLONY

China will fire a lucky bunch of taikonauts at the Moon after 2017 as a precursor to establishing a base there, although it admitted that there is no timetable as yet for a manned lunar landing. Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist for China’s lunar orbiter project, told a conference of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World …

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So we'll end up with three designs of wheel....

four if you count apollo as well...

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Re: So we'll end up with three designs of wheel....

The wheel wasn't perfected on the first attempt and has actually been reinvented uncountable times. It is also likely that it was invented in several independent locations by completely separate societies.

This is a new space race and I, for one, am excited.

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Re: So we'll end up with three designs of wheel....

Sounds like a useful bit of redundancy in a risky endeavour.

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Coat

Re: So we'll end up with three designs of wheel....

Four if you count the space station in 2001...

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Mushroom

I don't care who sets up the first base

so long as they call it Moonbase Alpha.

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But think about...

the clangers!!! No one thinks about the clangers!

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Re: But think about...

It's not the clangers you have to worry about.

It's that enormous Soup Dragon!

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Coat

Re: I don't care who sets up the first base

Sorry, I read that as Moonbase Apple and was going to down vote you. But I can accept the Alpha processor.

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Re: But think about...

Giant Dragon Soup- the Chinese could already have a recipe.

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Re: But think about...

Giant Dragon Soup- the Chinese could already have a recipe.

Dragon Soup? I'll be damned. That was the name of a buddy of mine's band back in high school...

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Mushroom

Re: I don't care who sets up the first base

Nothing to do with the processor of that name...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonbase_alpha

If only they'd done it by 1999

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Devil

And while NASA counts its pennies...

and the ESA plays the slow catch up game, the Chinese will leap ahead of the western world and rule the moon.. and probably most of space, as predicted by Arthur C. Clarke in his "Odyssey 3" novel.

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Alert

off topic

I'm celebrating 1500 El Reg thumbs up today. Go ahead and thumbs down this one.

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Re: off topic

That would spoil your up/down ratio. What is your ratio by the way? And your monthly/annual average, and your seasonal variance? I've given you an upvote, so please remember to give me an upvote :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: off topic

"What is your ratio by the way? And your monthly/annual average, and your seasonal variance?"

About time El Reg allowed us to see the figures for other users, maybe even offered some graphical monthly data. That could then be a precursor to "marking" the usernames of persistently unpopular types and regular trolls .....

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Neil DeGrasse Tyson was right...

The American scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson has said many times, and most recently on the Daily Show on Febuary 27th, that, 'Once the Soviet Union made it clear they weren't going to the Moon, the US stopped going too.'

Now the Chinese are going to do what the Americans are planning to do in 2019 (SLS-2 - colossal waste of money IMHO) and they're going to do it 2017. I happily predict (if I'm wrong, come see me in 2018 & I'll give you a dollar) that this will, finally, fire up the American Private Sector (possibly NASA too) to get serious about getting us into space & on the road to being a two-planet species.

Oh, and...

GO CHINA! From 1st Chinese man in orbit in 2003 to Apollo 8 in 2017? That's going to be a hell of an acheivement & they should be proud.

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Re: Neil DeGrasse Tyson was right...

Why don't the major powers work together on space exploration if it's for the benefit and advancement of humanity? Or is it just nationalist dick waving along with military capability development?

I'm thinking about how international teams collaborate on disease and biological research and basic science. Then when it comes to getting to the moon, they go their own way. Is NASA helping the Chinese, with information about the lunar surface and their experience of orbital insertion and landing?

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Re: Neil DeGrasse Tyson was right...

They do work together. That's what the "I" in the ISS stands for. ESA and NASA worked together on various projects.

But the fact is, for politicians, going to the moon again is not inspiring. I think that goes for the general population too. If it were colonization, then it may spark interest in people. But just watching a man in a bubbly suit bounce around will not fire peoples spirit of adventure.

And out of interest, any ideas on how to form an international government for any collaborative colony? I'm sure China, Russia and the USA would not agree on any government that fits with all their ideals. When it comes to colonization it's every man for himself. Sad but true.

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Unhappy

@frank ly

"Or is it just nationalist dick waving along with military capability development?"

When was it NOT about nationalistic dick waving? Even in the time of Apollo it was only ever about beating the Russians to the Moon. If the Russians hadn't had their space program going and beaten the US into space in the first place, the moon program would never have happened, no matter how many scientists might have wanted it.

Otherwise, if the astronauts really did "come in peace for all mankind", why did they only plant the Stars and Stripes and not the collected flags of humanity, or the laurels-and-globe of the UN? To stick it up the arses of the Russians, that's why. Came in peace, indeed!

Notice how nobody else bothered to go to the moon after America did? That's because there ain't no penis prize for second place, folks. Even though there was still plenty of science to be done...

Now we have the rivalry between China, Japan and India driving the new space race. Fuck the science, it's all about planting that glorious flag on global TV for your rivals and their citizens to see what a big dick your country has. And if China gets there first, you can bet they'll be rubbing Japan's and India's (and the USA's if they're still around) noses in it just as the USA did with the Russians 43 years ago. And as was the case back then, once they get there and achieve the Awesome Golden Dildo award the cost will become too high to continue, and their plans for a moonbase will evaporate just like America's did. Peen flashed, we don't need to go there any more.

If anyone thinks the primary motive in going to the moon was, or is, scientific research, they're living in some idealistic la-la land. The science is a great side benefit, in fact it makes for great PR (which is worth more to politicians than any amount of actual science), but it's not the reason any government funds it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Neil DeGrasse Tyson was right...

Helps if you steal all the technology and secrets. This makes me more nervous then hitching with Charles Manson.

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@frank ly

"Why don't the major powers work together on space exploration if it's for the benefit and advancement of humanity?"

Ah, you got off at the wrong earth. This isn't the philanthropic one. It's the avaricious one.

Take the tube one more stop. You can't miss it. No one walks around looking at his cell phone.

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Devil

Why don't they work together?

Easy, really.

Telling the electorate that their country is competing with THEM (It's always THEM) gets people fired up.

Working with them means that you're stuck with other people's slow speed. It's endlessly frustrating and things get even more messed up when political differences rear their ugly heads. Just think how quickly a joint space program would derail if America bombed another Chinese embassy or, vice-versa, a government official with a sheaf of documents 'visited' a foreign consulate.

Think of co-operation as sliding down to some lowest energy level (we can't be so weak as to do more than THEM) while competition would be a very good 'Look over there' while your left hand pockets the swag...

So dick-measuring it is, then.

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Sending a rover to obtain samples?

Look, they could use the bunches of $$$ that they have to buy a few moon rocks from NASA. It might be a little cheaper.

Another alternative would be to spend a buck or two and contract with NASA to go (again) to the moon. Look, we here in the USA could use the money, going broke and all that......

Just sayin'...

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P_0

A realistic plan for a Moonbase is impossible for the forseeable future. Assuming the issues of oxygen, habitat, evacuation, water, food, sustainability, energy usage/production are solved, one of the biggest issues is the effect of the moon's gravity on human muscles and skeletons. The "colonists" would have to keep coming back to Earth every few months to regrow muscles. We're nowhere near close to solving this problem.

A Martian base would be more realistic in that respect. There was also a theoretical design, a few years back, for a spinning, hammer-like, spacecraft to get the pioneers to Mars over 2 years. Because after two years in deep space, their bodies would have been weakened and damaged to uselessness. A spinning hammer could at least use centripetal forces to act as a makeshift gravity.

Anyway, the moonbase ain't gonna happen in the near future. And even if it were possible, there is very little on the moon for the colonists to do. Unlike Mars, there is no chance of terraforming, or changing the atmosphere to make it habitable, since there is no atmosphere. The most there is to do is mine iron, and some other metals. Well, we have plenty of that down here, and the price is plumetting. Even if it were economical to mine iron on the moon, it wouldn't be economical to send a 80kg bag of water that punctures easily, and suffers catastrophic failure from even mild damage. Better send a robot.

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Bah humbug. Dont bring science into this. This is about little boys making wooshing noises with plastic spaceships!

Anyway, one really good use of a moonbase is to use it as a low gravity staging post to get to mars.

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P_0

A low gravity staging post is unnecessary. There are designs for spaceships that travel to Mars that don'r require doing a few thousand mile detour to the Moon first. Any spaceship could be assembled in orbit (well, assuming we are sufficiently tech advanced). The staging post idea just adds extra cost and complexity to any mission.

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Boffin

Moon riches

"The most there is to do is mine iron, and some other metals. "

Or water... for manned deep space missions. That at least is the most plausible argument moon base fans have put forward. It is easier to fuel a spaceship from the moon. Not so deep a gravity well. Helium-3 is also easier to obtain on the moon than on Earth, assuming workable fusion reactors that can use it ever get built.

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@P_0

"Assuming the issues of oxygen, habitat, evacuation, water, food, sustainability, energy usage/production are solved, one of the biggest issues is the effect of the moon's gravity on human muscles and skeletons. The "colonists" would have to keep coming back to Earth every few months to regrow muscles. We're nowhere near close to solving this problem."

You forgot to mention Scylla and Charybdis, scurvy and that they will all fall off the edge of the universe...

Thankfully, there are always people in the world who try to actually solve problems rather than sit on their asses, imagining all sorts of scary excuses to justify their own laziness and inaction.

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Re: Moon riches

Fusion reactor engines are great, but I was speaking about something doable this century.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Direct

Here, the plan was to go direct from Earth to Mars, with no pit stop on the Moon.

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Re: @P_0

@Vladimir Plouzhnikov

What makes you think I am lazy or inactive? Or I haven't solved any problems? The issues I raised aren't ones I dreamed up. These are real problems, that we will not solve by 2017. I'm all for showing ingenuity, initiative and promoting human endeavour, but I am being realistic. It ain't gonna happen in the near future. Human bodies are design specifically for this planet. What's your idea of compensating for skeletal and muscle waste?

I would find it more ingenious, and more inspiring sending legions of robots to the Moon and Mars doing some mining, terraforming (in the case of Mars) and setting it up, for eventual human habitation in the distant future. That would be awesome.

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Boffin

"colonists" would have to keep coming back to Earth every few months to regrow muscles

They'd be in a much better condition than the crew of the ISS, in that they have actual gravity. They also have room to build things a normal gym, or even fancier stuff like centrifuges that would be mindbogglingly expensive and complex on the ISS. People have spent over a year in orbit before, a year on the moon would be less debilitating.

Where'd the 'every few months' come from?

I think the technical hurdles will be a little easier to clear than you make out, especially for a very rich and determined nation like the Chinese. The economic reasons for visiting will not, so I rather hope that the US isn't goaded into more moon missions at the expense of rather more interesting projects that have potentially significant long term benefits.

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Coat

Re: Moon riches

And moon sapphires. Don't forget about those!

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Re: @P_0

Lazy and inactive? Maybe it's too harsh, maybe I should have said "procrastinating". But does it make any difference?

Humans are not good at solving potential problems. Humans are very good at procrastinating, though. In order to be solved, a problem must become actual, practical, pressing one - only then a solution will be found.

The problems you mentioned are at the moment all potential and some are only theoretical. They will not be solved in 100 or in 1000 years if we wait for some robots to do the hard work for us.

Robots are hugely more expensive than self replicating water bags (as per your charitable description of human race) and they are highly inefficient in term of any useful return. Nuclear powered remote control cars are fun as novelty toys but they will not answer any really important questions in a meaningful and definitive way. If that is all we will resign ourselves to doing then very quickly the interest (and funding) will fade and that will be that.

There will be no eventual comfortable human habitation on Mars in the distant future without there being hard and uncomfortable and dangerous process of humans getting there and making it all work in the first place.

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@Vladimir Plouzhnikov

I would suggest that humans are good at solving problems. Very good. We don't all procrastinate. Do you think we haven't returned to the Moon for 60 or so years due to procrastination?

No. We don't go back, because we have no reason to. We know we can land a small team there. You want to set up a colony? That's orders of magnitude more complex, and then once they are there, what are they going to do?

When Europeans sent colonists to the New World, at least they had some way of surviving, untethered from the home land. Of course many colonies perished, but enough survived, and became self-sustained. The moon offers very little reward for investing trillions into a Moonbase. Presumably you mean colony and not scientific research outpost, so we are talking at least a few hundred people. They are going to need constant supplies from Earth. WHo's going to pay for that? If it cost a country 10% of GDP to sustain a moon colony, what's going to happen whenan economic crisis hits? Sorry guys, you're on your own. No, of course not. Nobody could be that callous, and that is why moonbases, ccolonies are not a good investment of human ingenuity. Not until we can solve the basic problems.

I chose the words to describe humans on purpose. If you were going to design from scratch something to travel thousands of miles through space, a human is the last design you would choose. The rate at which computer intelligence is increasing means that we could easily send robotic probes, miners,excavators, terraformers to Mars (not the Moon) to start prep work for a colony. And even then, why send humans in corporeal form? If there is a way to combine neurons with computer circuits (I'm thinking far future here, but possible), send beings with human like intelligence (the brains) in robotic bodies. Yeah, it's far-fetched, but so is sending a colony to the Moon in the near future.

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@Ru

These astronauts who spend a year in space, how long do they wait for their next mission? Yeah, they have to get fit again first.

The moon has a tiny fraction of the Earth's gravity, so bodies will waste away and if you want to build centrifuges, you are just adding trillions to the cost. And a centrifuge laid on the surface of the Moon would create a force inwards, not downwards. How do you set up a centrifuge to supplement the Moon's gravity?

Every few Months comes from the fact that the colonists' bodies will waste away. This isn't like the Pilgrims on the Mayflower. Humans are not designed to live on the moon. Bodies will waste. They have to come back to Earth to regrow muscle mass where it should be. And rethicken bones. And actualy, I don't want to dwell on this problem, it's not even one of the major ones.

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Meh

Re: @Ru

The moon has a tiny fraction of the Earth's gravity, so bodies will waste away and if you want to build centrifuges, you are just adding trillions to the cost

You are pulling numbers out of your arse.

And a centrifuge laid on the surface of the Moon would create a force inwards, not downwards. How do you set up a centrifuge to supplement the Moon's gravity?

Ahh, the problems is that you cannot comprehend an engineered solution to the problems you forsee. There's not really enough space here to describe acceleration vectors to you either. Suffice to say that with a centrifuge, you don't need to care about augmenting the moon's gravity.

Every few Months comes from the fact that the colonists' bodies will waste away. This isn't like the Pilgrims on the Mayflower

Uh, did you in fact read any of the rest of my post? Y'know, the bit that pointed out that people have survived in orbit, in microgravity for a year and returned to earth without dying on the spot? They will be able to survive longer on the moon, because it has actual gravity, even before you consider how much easier it is to exercise or construct centrifuges there. Which you clearly did not consider.

I don't want to dwell on this problem,

There are excellent reasons for not building a manned moon base, and you do not appear to understand any of them at all well. Your misunderstanding of this most simple issue rather underlines that.

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Re: @Vladimir Plouzhnikov

"I would suggest that humans are good at solving problems. Very good."

But, as I said earlier, not *potential* problems. We do not solve problems that have not already come and bitten us in the arse. For that the arse needs to be lifted off the couch in the first place.

"Presumably you mean colony and not scientific research outpost, so we are talking at least a few hundred people. They are going to need constant supplies from Earth. WHo's going to pay for that? If it cost a country 10% of GDP to sustain a moon colony, what's going to happen whenan economic crisis hits?"

Well, with the developed world economies in a systemic crisis because the rationale of their economic strength (invent and make new things) is evaporating fast, this is exactly the type of expansion that is rapidly becoming one of the few remaining options out of the crisis.

"If you were going to design from scratch something to travel thousands of miles through space, a human is the last design you would choose."

I would not choose human design for anything - no claws, no teeth to speak of, no fur, no wings, can't run very well, can't climb very well, swims but just a little bit.

So, clearly not a good design to, say, float on the ocean for weeks on end to get from one continent to another. However, if you add a ship, some salted pork and ship's biscuit, some lime juice and diluted rum the combination did tolerably well. No reasons to believe that there is not a feasible solution for more extended travel and colonisation...

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Trollface

RE: Vald: Re: @P_0

Why would they be sitting on a Donkey? is this the standard platform for postulation and procrastination these days?

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Coat

Re: Moon riches

What about the near boundless supply of cheese?

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@P_0 RE:'Re: @Vladimir Plouzhnikov'

The moon is a harsh mistress, read it ;)

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Re: RE: Vald: @P_0

Why, yes. If you don't want to go anywhere anytime soon you sit on a donkey, didn't you know?

Some ass-kicking is required to get any progress with them asses, usually

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Throwing rocks...

As long as they don't start threatening to chuck rocks at folks that don't like them, good luck to them.

The moon can be a harsh mistress, indeed.

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Pint

Re: Throwing rocks...

We demand a Libertarian Moonbase NAOW!

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Re: Throwing rocks...

Dammit.. I was about to post something about throwing rice... :P

Good real estate or not, the moon is at the top of the earth's gravity wel, as RAH made *quite* clear in his classic.

Everyone + dog will rush to get something up there as soon as the first colony is "viable".

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Rockets

I think the key to any future space program is getting away from slow, expensive and inefficent rocket propulsion systems. Until we solve that mystery we won't be going anywhere or doing anything meaningful in space..

But hopefully the boffins at NASA and military research centres around the world, are working on alternatives :-) Either that or i've taken prometheus too seriously..

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Anonymous Coward

Indian visit to the moon?

They planning to build a call centre by any chance?

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Anonymous Coward

there goes the health budget

Love it , the panic in washington should ensure some bulk funding to Nasa to head off the trespassers.

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Anonymous Coward

gardenbase alpha

I have plans to colonise that overgrown weedpatch that I sometimes laughingly refer to as "the garden". I have drawn up plans for a solar-powered garden office with running water, kitchen & bathroom. It'll only cost 40 grand. Now I just have to ask the bank manager.... oh dear.

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Trollface

DfID

And I bet that even when India has a man on the moon, the UK will STILL be sending aid to it.

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He3

It will still be 1-2 generations before fusion is practical but then He3 will become very valuable - the one realistic part of Iron Sky!

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