With China successfully docking its Tiangong space module and its Shenzhou-8 space craft this week, the so-called ‘Space Kiss’, the asian country has shown that they are ready to challenge the world in the international space race. With the unmanned space craft docking with relative ease they are planning to send up a manned craft as their next test.
Space station and lunar base
China’s plan is to have a fully-operational manned space station ready by 2020 and by 2030 they want to pursue a manned mission to the moon. If that was not ambitious enough, they are looking at the potential of a lunar base.
With the US very quiet on the space front it looks like other nations have taken the initiative and are setting the stones for space exploration. In Russia the Mars500 mission has highlighted the ambition to send men to Mars, a project which has showed promise.
As of present the U.S. and Russia are the only other nations to successfully master the space docking technique and the current Chinese mission is expected to last for another 12 days completing the relevant tests it was set out to do, culminating in a return to Earth on November 17.
China were forced to launch their own space station after they were repeatedly turned away from their attempts to join the 16-nation International Space Station. The reason was due to the suspicion the United States had over the Chinese space program’s military ties.
In regards to technology and space development, China are now where the U.S. were in the 60s. However, experts are saying that the Chinese are progressing faster than the U.S. with every flight to space it undertakes. The current project is a perfect example with the parts of the docking mechanism and more than 600 onboard instruments designed and made by Chinese state-owned and private companies.
China are already in position to go ahead on two more docking missions, and their plans to create a space station will be completed in three sections between 2020 and 2022.
New Mexico Desert Space Port
Should America be concerned about the Chinese ‘Space Kiss’? The reality is America are dealing with other issues than going back into space. This is further confirmed by NASA who have allowed the private sector the path to pursue space exploration.
However, there is usually a storm hiding the calm and Virgin Galactic’s quixotic plan to build a space port in the middle of the New Mexico desert may be one of the strongest opportunities the U.S. have had in recent times in getting their manned space program moving again.