Trying to get rid of surfing, wasted too much time, any suggestion?.......................... 七宗罪?............................... 1,没有原则的政治;2,不劳而获的财富;3,没有理智的享乐;4,没有特点的知识;5,没有道德的商业;6,没有人文关怀的科学;7,没有牺牲的崇拜。............................................. 虽然这是圣雄甘地说老印的.......

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Economist :China in space

Per obscura ad astra
Oct 13th 2005 | BEIJING
From print edition

China's secretive space programme alarms Japan

FOR the launch of its second manned rocket, China opened the doors of its secretive space programme—a crack. Unlike the first such lift-off two years ago, the event was broadcast live. As the Shenzhou 6 and its two-man crew were propelled into a cold grey sky, the authorities' fears of an embarrassing failure in front of millions melted away.

But China is not yet ready to bare all. Only state-run television and radio were allowed to conduct the coverage. No foreign media were allowed anywhere near the launch site in Gansu province, about 900 miles (1,500 kilometres) west of Beijing, in the Gobi Desert. The date of the launch (October 12th) was announced only the day before; the time, just minutes in advance. What little had leaked out previously came mainly from small provincial newspapers.

State television did not even mention the possibility of a launch until the date was confirmed. The intended length of the mission has still not been officially announced. The government notified foreign journalists that if they had any questions about the mission, they should submit them by fax.

This venture, however, is clearly a more adventurous step for China than the launch of Shenzhou 5, which carried only one man into orbit for 21 hours. The latest mission is rumoured to be scheduled to last for nearly five days and involve 80 earth orbits. Astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng (both fighter pilots) have moved from their seats to conduct experiments in a separate orbital unit that will remain in space after they return in the re-entry module.

It is also becoming clear that China has plans to become a space power. Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut, has said that Shenzhou 7 is scheduled for launch in 2007 and will involve a space walk. The next mission will practise docking. Next year China is likely to launch a probe that will orbit the moon (a feat achieved only by Russia, America and Japan). It hopes to put an unmanned rover on the moon by 2012 and retrieve lunar samples robotically by 2020. Some reports talk of a human moon landing by then.

The speed with which China has developed manned space flight has surprised and alarmed Japanese policymakers. Shame was added to the mix when just a month after China's first manned flight, in October 2003, a Japanese rocket carrying two spy satellites had to be blown up, ignominiously, ten minutes after the launch when a booster failed to disengage. Further satellite launches were restarted only last spring.

For years Japan's space programme has dwindled, a consequence of budget cuts and of Japan's constitutional inability to develop anything that might have military applications. Japan now spends just $1.8 billion a year on its space programme, a fall of one-third from the peak: still more than China says it spends, but a fraction of NASA's annual budget.

China's progress in space has strengthened the hand of Japan's space lobby. In March, the Japanese space agency, JAXA, under a new head, Keiji Tachikawa (who previously ran NTT DoCoMo, the country's mobile-phone giant), laid out its new vision for the next 20 years. JAXA wants a manned space programme, with a space station on the moon. Some Japanese policymakers argue that space is an area where much needed co-operation could actually take place between Japan and China. But there is precious little sign of that yet.


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