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jgraham
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Re: China Spacecraft to land on Moon Dec-14 new [Re: contrailmaker]
      #6255048 - 12/15/13 07:15 PM

Actually, Chang'e 3 landed within the eastern edge of the target area. This is because they proceeded with the landing on the first candidate orbit to attempt a landing. The target zone stretched westward to allow them to use later orbits if needed. Too bad, getting it right the first time put them quite a ways east of the Bay of Rainbows.

Neat stuff.


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azure1961p
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Re: China Spacecraft to land on Moon Dec-14 new [Re: jgraham]
      #6255082 - 12/15/13 07:35 PM

I can actually see them landing people there. Beyond prestige, I don't know why though. They ARE big on pride however even in peculiar instances like ordering a US Destroyer to stop in international waters. (We didn't).



The real achievement for China though would not be doing it at trillions if dollars but on the cheap in some modular repeatable way. THAT would be the real success of their l program that could have them stand alone in space exploration - if they can do it.


Pete

Edited by azure1961p (12/15/13 07:39 PM)


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brianb11213
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Re: China Spacecraft to land on Moon Dec-14 new [Re: azure1961p]
      #6255094 - 12/15/13 07:41 PM

Quote:

I'm curious though- what is the capability we might not have anymore that the mission from China has shown.



Well, we (USA + Europe + Russia, individually or collectively) could build a lunar soft lander ... but we haven't bothered to do so for such a long time that all the people with the knowhow are retired, so we'd effectively be starting all over again ... and that business of decelerating from orbital velocity without the help of aero braking involves some technologies that we haven't exercised for 40 years (throttleable engines for one).

Most of what we did in the 60s & 70s was a technology demonstration. We gave up just when we were getting good at it, and just when the scientific payback was starting to become effective. Kudos to the Chinese for developing the technology AND going for new & interesting science from the first.

Sure, other places may be more interesting ... but for practical purposes we have to master the Moon before we go to Mars, let alone Europa or Titan.


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contrailmaker
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Re: China Spacecraft to land on Moon Dec-14 new [Re: brianb11213]
      #6255123 - 12/15/13 08:04 PM

There's nothing easy or cheap about sending people to the Moon. I don't think China, or anybody else for that matter, is going to do it for a long time to come.

CM


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brianb11213
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Re: China Spacecraft to land on Moon Dec-14 new [Re: azure1961p]
      #6255140 - 12/15/13 08:10 PM

Quote:

The real achievement for China though would not be doing it at trillions if dollars but on the cheap in some modular repeatable way. THAT would be the real success of their l program that could have them stand alone in space exploration - if they can do it.



Well, their allegedly communist but in practice hyper capitalist economy is raking in huge sums of (our) money, they simply don't know what to do with the stuff. So they can probably afford what it takes at least as easily as the US afforded Apollo ... especially if they don't spend 50 times as much on losing the war in Vietnam at the same time.

As for "going it alone" - at present they have little choice, having been frozen out of the International Space Station. (That might actually be something of a bonus from the Chinese point of view - politically, economically and practically - the ISS may look nice & be a symbol of political cooperation, but it's been really expensive & is really struggling to produce anything useful from the scientific point of view - I think the early Skylab missions did more useful science as well as using up some of the leftover hardware from cancelled Apollo missions.)

The Chinese aren't rushing but that doesn't mean they aren't interested - there is no political reason for them to go faster. True they're launching far fewer missions than the US did in the 60s but then they're accomplishing more with each mission - after only three manned flights they're already about up to the capability shown by Gemini.

The only thing that China seems to be lacking at the moment is a good launch site. The issue with their existing one is that booster components tend to fall in populated areas (they tend not to publicise the fact, but it happens) & a launching a Saturn V class heavy lift vehicle would magnify this issue more than somewhat.


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azure1961p
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Re: China Spacecraft to land on Moon Dec-14 new [Re: brianb11213]
      #6255387 - 12/15/13 10:26 PM

Hi Brian,

I'm trying to find anything useful coming out of ISS. As much as every part of me wants to see a moon base (old dreams die hard) I have tough time seeing what we could get out of it to justify the cost and so in that respect I see the prospect somewhat like ISS on the MOON . I kno the issues about frozen water at the South Pole, extracting oxygen and all - but again I have a hard time seeing the return for the dollar would be to make all that worth it.

Then there's those fantastic discoveries awaiting - Europas under ice seas and the potential for life. Rovers on Venus and Titan, ice from Mercury - the list goes on. In the face of programs like this the moon redux seems like science without a cause. And yes it has cause but again to what meaningful end?

These are the things I mull over to myself . Europa is frustratingly distant, pricey and complex to even consider drilling for life. Still Id rather see that than an American hitting a golf ball on mars. Like the moon - I have difficulty seeing the return on that investment.

I guess I'm more inline with exploratory robotics. My heart likes the idea of humans occupying distant solar system outposts but my sense of practicality and discovery makes me lean heavily on remote control robotic astronauts.

I liked (and agreed) with your take on China political and financial take here.

CM, It'll be interesting to see how it plays out . I will say though if it were another country to do it, China would be at the top of the list. They definately are taking in the money .

Pete


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brianb11213
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Re: China Spacecraft to land on Moon Dec-14 new [Re: azure1961p]
      #6255679 - 12/16/13 05:07 AM

Quote:

As much as every part of me wants to see a moon base (old dreams die hard) I have tough time seeing what we could get out of it to justify the cost and so in that respect I see the prospect somewhat like ISS on the MOON . I kno the issues about frozen water at the South Pole, extracting oxygen and all - but again I have a hard time seeing the return for the dollar would be to make all that worth it.



The frozen water just makes a base a lot more feasible.

As for "why" - if we want to build really large telescopes, the moon is a good place to do it (no atmosphere, low gravity, local materials for construction) - in particular positioning a radio telescope on the far side of the moon makes sense, shielded from the pollution generated by myriads of broadcast stations, radars & general electronic noise on & near earth by a couple of thousand miles of rock.

But there are other reasons, and the Chinese are very probably interested in these. (We might be too if we didn't have the handicap of having four or five year electroral cycles.) Raw materials: there are huge supplies of rare earth elements lying on the lunar surface, and these are becoming severely depleted on earth. Eventually (and probably not too far into the future) the Chinese will have reduced Tibet to a smoking pit & they'll have to look somewhere else. Helium 3 fuel for nuclear fusion power planets is fairly abundant on the moon but essentially non existent on earth (in fact we've almost used up supplies of He4 by frittering the stuff away in party balloons). Commercial mining on the moon will become economically viable sometime in the next century & those powers with lunar bases are going to be in a position to control this. And the Chinese - with massive capital & knowhow together with the capacity that comes from the remnants of the old centralised command system - are in prime position here.

It's the established Western economies that are at fault here - "can't afford" just doesn't make sense - we must afford something that we can't predict the full benefit from; just have faith that some unpredicted benefit will accrue. We got far more than a few hundred kilogrammes of lunar rock samples from the Apollo programme, and it returned to the economy something like $14 for every tax dollar spent. A lunar base would inject enthusiasm into the economy, would hardly be much more hostile than the Antarctic scientific bases and could well prove self sufficient in the medium term. Finally a lunar base would be an ideal launch pad for robotic missions to the outer planets and their satellites ... smaller, cheaper, faster ... as well as being an almost essential capability for any manned expedition to Mars.


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