Science, Tech & Environment

China's first foray into space

China's space program has come a long way since 1949 when Mao Zedong was leader. The Cultural Revolution was ranging in the 1960s when the first American walked on the moon. The next year China launched its own space program and this current-space professor then plunged into the subject. He's thrilled with the advances China has already made and with its eventual goal of sending Chinese to the moon, and he doesn't believe this is a simple repeat of America's past achievements. This space analyst talks about China's current goals with this trip, and says China's spacesuit, its main test during this mission, is an unknown quantity at this point in time. That gives the mission new challenges, which could be one reason why the mission is less than 3 days. There are also 3 astronauts on this mission, compared to two during the last one, which also increases the logistical challenges of this mission. But China is so confident that it's choosing to air the space walk live. It's not clear how much all of this is costing, but estimates range about $2 billion dollars for the total cost of China's space program. This professor says it's all in the name of technology and advancement. He admits there are also military applications. This space analyst says China is trying to do what the U.S. has been doing for years with military applications in its space pursuits. That's part of what's fueling a space race of sorts at the moment, with India and Japan also competing. But this analyst says the real space race is still amongst China, Russia, the U.S. and Europe�both for military advantage and propaganda purposes. China has aired a documentary about its last space mission to build excitement for the current launch. It features an emotional video of the Chinese Premier after the launch. It's no coincidence that the date of the launch has been moved up so it falls right after the Olympics and right before the October 1st National Holiday. The message the party is now sending is, it has now launched China on a program to become the next superpower in space.

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