China Eyes Moon for Nuclear-Powered Rover Mission China is working to build up their space program. The latest example is a proposed mission to the moon which would involve an unmanned rover.(1)
Ignoring for the time being the fact that the Chinese Space program is actually controlled by their so-called "People's Liberation" Army, (which is actually noted by the Associated Press),(2) there is a bit of media bias to point out in this report.
The proposed exploration vehicle is to be nuclear powered.(3) And I have yet to see any reports of protests against China for putting a nuclear reactor in space. This is at odds with the coverage of the 1997 launch of the Nuclear powered Cassini probe. There was a highly reported protest against the United States and NASA (though, curiously not the ESA) based around the idea that nuclear reactors are dangerous and NASA could kill "thousands, and perhaps millions, of people" if this launch went wrong.(4) So I find myself asking a question I have asked before (though with different actors). Why is it that if the United States wants to launch a nuclear powered space vehicle, protesters come out and say that America is evil and wants to kill us all, but they don't utter a peep when China proposes to do the same thing? Or, if such protesters are in fact extant, why has the news media decided not to cover them?
In a further note of interest, the Chinese military hopes to put one of their people on the Moon sometime after 2017.(5) Should we be concerned? I think so. I don't think this new space race is something we can afford to lose, because loss would mean Chinese military superiority in space.
(1) Christopher Bodeen. "China Developing Lunar Rover for Mission," The Disbatch, 2007 April 02, http://www.the-dispatch.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070402/API/704021433&cachetime=5.
(2) Ibid., para. 9.
(3) Ibid., paras. 1 & 5.
(4) John Zarrella. "Much ado about Cassini's plutonium -- Critics say launch could result in deadly disaster," CNN, 1997 October 10, http://www.cnn.com/TECH/9710/10/cassini.advancer/.
(5) William Atkins. "Shanghai scientists in China hope lunar rover will go to Moon," iTWire, 2007 April 02, para. 5, http://www.itwire.com.au/content/view/11030/1066/.
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