Saturday, September 27, 2008

Walking in space, Chinese style

The Chinese achieve a significant milestone in the progression of their space program.

BEIJING - Chinese celebrated their nation's first spacewalk Saturday, gathering at outdoor TV screens to cheer live video of the milestone for a program that has ambitions of building a space station and challenging the U.S. and Russia in off-world exploration.


The spacewalk was mainly aimed at testing China's mastery of the technology. Mission commander Zhai Zhigang's sole task was to retrieve a rack attached to the outside of the orbital module containing an experiment involving solid lubricants.


In step with its growing list of achievements, China's military-backed space program has grown progressively less secretive, and officials have hinted in recent days at a desire for greater cooperation with other nations. China plans to mass-produce the next version of the Shenzhou ship to service a future space station and says it may make such missions available to other countries.

As with anything about China, I have mixed feelings about this achievement. I think it's great that other nations are at least showing an interest in working together to advance humanity's chances of becoming a space-faring species. On the other hand, this is China.

No comments: