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lehpron
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Will China Get To Mars Before US Does?

Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:55 am

This is just an impression I have had for a number of years, like a faint subtle thought in the back of my mind.

Your thoughts?
 
DfwRevolution
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RE: Will China Get To Mars Before US Does?

Wed Feb 22, 2006 12:37 pm

Quoting Lehpron (Thread starter):
This is just an impression I have had for a number of years, like a faint subtle thought in the back of my mind.

In my opinion it's highly unlikely China would arrive first on Mars. I think it would be a stretch, though possible, that China might beat the U.S. return to the moon. But Mars is a whole nother burrito.

I would venture to say that the Chinese space program does not have the nearly limitless support and budget NASA recieved in the 60s with Apollo. China is committed to space, but to the extent that the U.S. went to beat the USSR in the Cold War? Without the total devotion of national resources, I don't see how they can safely prepare to send men on their way toward Mars before 2015-2020.

NASA is finally starting to get their ducks in a row with the CEV. By 2020, we should have the opperational hardware necessary for Mars. The lunar return flights in 2020-2030 would bolster confidence as would another decade of reliable ISS opperations.

It's all about the risk China or NASA are willing to take. If China is willing to accept a greater degree of risk, they could skip a few "stepping stones" and shoot for Mars early. They are starting off with fewer resources and hardware at their disposal than NASA. Likewise, NASA could curtail the lunar return and go for Mars earlier if it appeared China was moving quickly. NASA faces inconsistent political agendas, budget irregularity, and a large percentage of their workforce retiring in the next decade.

Interesting times...
 
lehpron
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RE: Will China Get To Mars Before US Does?

Wed Feb 22, 2006 8:10 pm

Right now, there is no national support behind any NASA project, there is no big reason to do things as we don't have a USSR, the 'market' is gone. It's almost like we have to let anothe country get ahead of us (or in line with us) just to restart the patriotism wheel. Does China need some much money to do the same things we have? Being on top with no competitors, means there is no reason to do anything. The Chinese have their supposed cheap labor and unless they want to show off to the world they are equal or better than the USA, then they have reason. I think they may take greater risk than we might, unless we find terrorists on Mars/Moon...

Who in this country honestly 'worries' about the Chinese Space Program? Have the French or British or whomever has space vehicles, sent people to space yet?

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 1):
Likewise, NASA could curtail the lunar return and go for Mars earlier if it appeared China was moving quickly. NASA faces inconsistent political agendas, budget irregularity, and a large percentage of their workforce retiring in the next decade.

My thoughts exactly.
 
civ4b2fan
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RE: Will China Get To Mars Before US Does?

Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:48 am

Could possibly get there before us if we use the effort we are placing now. I think we need to spend a little less on the attack campaign and more towards our research and development
 
Thorny
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RE: Will China Get To Mars Before US Does?

Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:25 am

Quoting Lehpron (Thread starter):
This is just an impression I have had for a number of years, like a faint subtle thought in the back of my mind.

Your thoughts?

Possible, but extremely unlikely. China does nothing quickly. The pace of the Shenzhou program has been nothing short of glacial. The first rumors I recall of an imminent Chinese manned spaceflight were in the 1980s. They're first manned Shenzhou flight was in 2003 and the second in 2005. The next is scheduled for 2007.

Compare this to the history of Soviet and American manned spaceflight. In the first 2 1/2 years of manned spaceflight beginning April 12, 1961, the Soviet Union flew six manned missions (Vostoks 1-6) and the United States flew another six (Mercury Redstone 3 and 4, Mercury Atlas 6-9.) Even without the impetus of the moon race, NASA launched the Space Shuttle eight times in the first 2 1/2 years of that program.

China's extremely slow, methodical pace for Shenzhou is highly indicative of a poorly-funded, low priority program, making far more ambitious lunar or planetary manned flight questionable at best. At their current pace, China might have flown perhaps six Shenzhou missions by the time the US begins flying CEV, and CEV is scheduled for two flights per year. Plus, the US will already have a (more or less) fully operational Space Station to use as a proving ground for lunar and planetary flight, something China conspicuously lacks.
 
whitehatter
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RE: Will China Get To Mars Before US Does?

Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:21 am

I really don't think China has any interest at this stage in Mars.

Their main concern is getting to the moon and exploring water plus helium-3, which is their stated longterm objective. As China is known for working to longterm plans I would not doubt Mars is in there somewhere, but they first want to get to the moon and work on using local resources there for anything longer term or deep-space.

Using moon sourced water, cracked gases and other materials for exploration off-planet means much less mass that has to be lifted out of a gravity well. So factor that into their longterm approach, developing technologies and methods to use moon-sourced consumables as a step out into the wider system.

That would be much more consistent with traditional Chinese thinking.
 
lehpron
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RE: Will China Get To Mars Before US Does?

Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:39 am

Quoting WhiteHatter (Reply 5):
WhiteHatter

Either way, will they get there bofore us? Our space program literally changes with the tides.
 
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centrair
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RE: Will China Get To Mars Before US Does?

Fri Feb 24, 2006 5:12 pm

No. China will not get their first.

The Chinese program is being very cautious. First they send up one taikonaut, then two years later send two more for much longer. The next mission is slated for 2007 and will involve 3 spacecraft. The first two will go up unmanned. One will have a three hatch docking mechanism instead of a orbital module. The second will have an orbital module. The third will go up manned and dock with the "mini station" and conduct experiments.

The big difference between the Soviet/U.S. space race is that the Chinese basically bought a Soyuz, modernized it and built a newly designed orbital module. They didn't have to develop things from scratch.

The U.S flew under a banner of "Freedom", the Soviet under a banner for "Communism and the workers", China is flying under the banner of "let's use this to eventually make some major bucks." If you ever spend time in China, you will notice that even though they are a communist state, they are highly capitalist as well. Deng Xiao Peng once said that "true Communism is a conflict with the Chinese character." Chinese are historically business people and will do anything to make money. The Soviet was disorganized and had too many organizations fighting over what and how to do things. The U.S. has different agendas every 4 to 8 years and nothing moves forward. China has a strong central leadership, with one goal, with one supply organization, and a whole system in place for getting things done. They will do what they can for the national pride and if it is profitable ...all the better.

Will they beat the U.S. to Mars? No. Will they beat the U.S. back to the Moon? Possibly. Will they make money doing heavy lift or when they do make it to the moon? DEFINATELY. Remember there is already a Chinese organization selling property on the moon.
 
DfwRevolution
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RE: Will China Get To Mars Before US Does?

Sat Feb 25, 2006 7:32 am

Quoting Centrair (Reply 7):
They didn't have to develop things from scratch.

It wasn't quite that simple for China. The Russians gave China full access to the Soyuz blue-prints, but China was never given a liscense to build the parts themselves. Much of the aerodynamics, structure, and configuration is all Soyuz-derrived, but many systems are indigenously re-engineered Chinese products.

The launch booster is also the indigenous Chinese Long March IIF.

Quoting Centrair (Reply 7):
The U.S. has different agendas every 4 to 8 years and nothing moves forward.

That's a gross oversimplification.

Apollo was accomplished in 9 years but spanned three Presidents with vastly different agenda. The Space Shuttle was accomplished in 9 years and spanned four Presidential administrations. The International Space Station took years to evolve, and spanned Regan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush again. The CEV will hopefully be opperational before 2015, another manned project delivered in lesst than a decade.

The U.S. has a fairly good record in this regard. For an agency that opperates on .01% of the U.S. federal budget, NASA works miracles.
 
TIMC
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RE: Will China Get To Mars Before US Does?

Sat Feb 25, 2006 8:22 am

Quoting Centrair (Reply 7):
Remember there is already a Chinese organization selling property on the moon.

There are also American companies selling an acre of moon space, and various others offering to put ashes etc on the moon...

... doesn't mean they're all serious though, does it?
 
cloudy
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RE: Will China Get To Mars Before US Does?

Sun Feb 26, 2006 3:11 am

Quoting Thorny (Reply 4):
Possible, but extremely unlikely. China does nothing quickly. The pace of the Shenzhou program has been nothing short of glacial.

But remember the turtle and the hare......
I hope the Chinese get going. The only way NASA is going to go anywhere(literrally and figuratively) is if someone else threatens to get there first.

Like all current manned spaceflight, the base motivation is politics and national prestige. The economic, military, technical and other reasons given are just PR to defend the expense. I do NOT deny that it is sometimes prudent to spend money to increase prestige(as in the cold war). Also, some of the other purported benefits of manned space flight ARE real. But they don't come close to justifying the cost. Other research spending, tax cuts, unmanned space flights, etc. are far more productive for the ammount of money invested. If there were no headlines and no entrenched constituancy, there would be no manned spaceflight with current technology. Not anywhere. Period. The closest thing we have to a non-prestige driven manned space program is the space tourism efforts of Virgin Galactic.

The talk the Chinese(and American space lovers) are putting out regarding Helium-3 is taken seriously only by a few space enthusiests. There is almost ZERO interest in Helium-3 in the energy community. Nobody is putting a significant ammount of their own money into it. Even if it was the miracle some are claiming, it could be recovered by unmanned spacecraft.

I love space. I love manned space. But we have to look at space realistically, and stop grasping at straws. Programs based on pipe-dreams will ultimatly fail.
 
Thorny
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RE: Will China Get To Mars Before US Does?

Sun Feb 26, 2006 5:02 am

Quoting Cloudy (Reply 10):
Like all current manned spaceflight, the base motivation is politics and national prestige.

That's not exactly true. If prestige were the only reason for manned spaceflight, the US would not have cancelled Apollo. Instead, politicians ended Apollo and tasked NASA with developing cheaper access to space. This wasn't so much an international prestige effort as a plan to cut the cost of everyday space access (Shuttle was meant to replace Delta, Atlas, and Titan rockets.) It didn't turn out that way, but that's irrelevant to why it happened.

Quoting Cloudy (Reply 10):
Also, some of the other purported benefits of manned space flight ARE real. But they don't come close to justifying the cost. Other research spending, tax cuts, unmanned space flights, etc. are far more productive for the ammount of money invested.

It also is arguable that all unmanned probes are more productive than manned probes. Certainly in the case of lunar or Mars surface exploration, there is considerable reason to doubt this. The US and Russia both undertook lunar surface exploration in 1969-75. Ignoring Russia's failed manned lunar program, the US spent a couple of orders of magnitude more on lunar exploration than Russia did. But Apollo also returned several orders of magnitude more scientific data than the Russian program did, 800 lbs of lunar samples versus a few ounces, just for starters. Likewise, humans on Mars are likely to be far more productive than Spirit and Opportunity, which have travelled a mile or two in two years (itself a great achievement). Opportunity's month spent in a sand trap last year is ample evidence of that. Humans will require far more expeditures to get to Mars, but they will also be capable of exponentially greater exploration once there. Robotic technology is simply not even remotely comparable to the presense of a human brain and hands at the scene.

Other research spending and tax cuts only take you so far. Without actually applying your laboratory research to the real world, you can never be certain your theories or techniques will work. Eventually, you actually have to go outside and try it. We have the technology to do so now, and so we do it now.

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