, I have to respond to your comments about the likelyhood of China making a manned moon landing by 2020. China is making slow but
steady progress towards the same space milestones that the US and Soviet Union achieved back in the 1960's, and they're doing it at a pace which is
impressive. I've jotted down the data for 5 of these milestones below, 4 of which the US has achieved and all which China has made official plans to
achieve. While the dates for the Chinese flights are subject to change in three of these cases, it is worth noting that when China has set general
dates in for spaceflights in the past, they've launched fairly close to the mark.
First Manned Space Flight:
: Mercury-Redstone 3, flown by Allan Shepard in May 1961
: Shenzhou 5, flown by Yang Liwei in October 2003
First 2-Man Flight:
: Gemini 3 in March 1965, almost 4 years after first flight
: Shenzhou 6 in October 2005, 2 years after first flight
: Gemini 4 in 1965, just over 4 years after first flight
for Shenzhou 7 in 2008, approximately 5 years after first flight
First Robotic (possibly automated - this is unclear from published plans) Docking:
; none planned
for Shenzhou 8/9 in 2010, approximately 7 years after first flight
First Manned Docking:
: Gemini 8/ATV (Agena Target Vehicle) in March 1966, almost 5 years after first flight. If you want to count the Gemini 6/7
rendezvous in December of 1965, that would make this milestone ~5 1/2 years after first flight...
for Shenzhou 8/9/10 in 2010, approximately 7 years after first flight. This flight is planned to rendezvous with the
Shenzhou 8 laboratory and the robotic/automatic Shenzhou 9.
I didn't include the Soviet dates for these same milestones because, let's face it, it was the United States which made it to the
moon, not the USSR. Also, I was lazy. The Soviet dates would be slightly ahead of the American ones, except for that Robotic/Automatic docking one,
which the US has never successfully pulled off...
So China is behind the US pace in some areas and ahead of that same pace in others. They also have the benefit of, at least presumably, being able to
use their Shenzhou capsule to return from a lunar mission, either as-is or with some slight modifications. No need to develop 3 different capsules on
their way to the moon like the US (and, for that matter, the Soviets) did.
is the reason I think China will be able to make it to the moon by 2020. They've already got a vehicle which can safely get a crew
there and back, in terms of life support and living space and so on. They need some sort of a lunar module, which will certainly be an engineering
challenge, and some sort of Earth Departure Stage - again, an engineering challenge. And they probably need a heavy-lift LV, which I'm sure the
Chinese military would like, anyway.
China isn't there yet, but they're on their way. And, what's more, they have the benefit of knowing that it can be done.
China Might Be Planning Early Space Station
[edit on 1-4-2007 by PhloydPhan]