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BY ALFRED WEST

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    Monday, April 02, 2007

    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.



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    (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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    7 Comments:
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Probably nobody protest yet because it is not as dangerous as you think.
    Please read some comments here:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/04/03/china_moon_rover/comments/

    4/03/2007 5:13 PM  
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    Blogger The Sovereign Editor said...

    I didn't say that the launch of a vehicle powered with fissionable materials was particularly dangerous. Other people do--as evidenced by the uproar over Cassini. I didn't think Cassini was particularly dangerous. I am merely pointing out a possible bias in the media and in the no nukes in space movement (if such a thing exists).

    4/04/2007 5:48 PM  
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    Blogger Tom said...

    It just seems that the environmentalists seem to have it in their DNA to protest anything and everything that isn't "green" that's going on in this country. China is "over there" and completely off their radar.

    But then again, there aren't too many protesters in China either...

    4/04/2007 8:48 PM  
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    Blogger BadTux said...

    People protest what is happening in their own country, not what is happening in other countries. Thus any protests would be in China. The Chinese government does not, of course, allow protests. The news media cannot cover protests that do not exist because the Chinese government doesn't allow them, thus no coverage of the Chinese protests.

    It is quite simple, no?

    As for the no nukes movement, Al Gore's recent movie has splintered it. Half the environuts now have decided that global warming is a bigger threat than nuclear reactors so we should build more nuclear reactors. The other half insists that we must freeze in the dark by decommissioning CO2-spewing coal plants without replacing the lost generating capacity with something else. Needless to say, protesting something happening half the world away is not on their agenda at the moment.

    4/06/2007 1:22 AM  
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    Blogger The Sovereign Editor said...

    People protest what is happening in their own country, not what is happening in other countries.

    Come on, now... that is simply not true. South Africa was heavily protested in the 1980s--in other countries. In the 1960s, protesters in Brazil staged marches in support of Castro and against the Unites States. In 2003, anti-war protesters in Vienna staged an anti-US protest. One of my personal favorites is the protests in China a few years ago against Japan's choice of textbooks. Similar protests involving people cutting off their own fingers took place in South Korea before the China protests. Oh, and then there's the protests against Japan's Yasukuni Shrine, which shows a complete lack of understanding of the context of the shrine within Japanese culture.

    4/08/2007 11:40 AM  
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    Blogger BadTux said...

    Hmm, I do recall Amy Carter being arrested for protesting U.S. support of the South African government back during the last years of apartheid. On the other hand, the U.S. government was one of the principle supporters of the apartheid government, and every protest that I recall was protesting against U.S. support of the apartheid government of South Africa. If there had been no U.S. involvement in South Africa I doubt there would have been significant protests in the United States against South Africa's apartheid government. In short, people protest what their own government is doing, not what someone else's government is doing. How many protests were there in the United States against the Nigerian rape of Biafra, where they starved a million of their own citizens to death in order to subjugate the Ibo population under Muslim rule? I don't recall any... perhaps because Nigeria's principle supporter was the British government and its principal armaments provider was the Soviet Union, and our own government was not involved.

    Japan invaded China and raped and pillaged and destroyed for a decade. The Chinese definitely have "skin in the game" so to speak when the Japanese try to whitewash their history of atrocity. For similar reasons, there are massive protests in Korea, which was brutalized by Imperial Japan for several decades. There is a *REASON* why, whenever North Korea feels like they need more attention from the world, they fire one of their crappy clones of 1950's Soviet era missiles over Japan rather than, say, over China or South Korea. Japan's behavior during the period of 1905-1945 against its neighbors was brutal and horrific, and all of its neighbors are rightfully peeved when Japanese history books try to deny that reality.

    In short: People protest in large numbers when they have skin in the game. How many Americans protested Stasi brutality against the citizens of East Germany during the Communist era? I can't think of any, can you?

    _BT

    4/10/2007 5:51 PM  
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    Blogger The Sovereign Editor said...

    So, according to you, people concerned that launching fissionable materials into space could have a detrimental effect on the planet's atmosphere (potentially affecting any of us) should reasonably be concerned that China is contemplating such a launch? So happy you agree with me.

    4/13/2007 8:21 PM  
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