October 15, 2003

Congratulations To China And All That, But. . .

Well, China's joined the space race.

With ground control watching, Yang unfurled the flags of China and the United Nations to "highlight China's persistent stand for peaceful exploration and exploitation of space," the government said.

Yayyy! Yay for peaceful exploration and exploitation of space! Yayyyy!

In a statement issued by Xinhua, Chinese President Hu Jintao said the launch was "the glory of our great motherland and a mark for the initial victory of the country's first manned space flight and for the significant, historic step of the Chinese people in the advance of climbing over the peak of the world's science and technology."

Um, yay? Woo hoo? Clap, clap?

Referring to China's earlier unmanned space launches, an announcer on the English-language government channel CCTV-9 invoked American astronaut Neil Armstrong's words upon first walking on the moon. "If these were small steps," the announcer said, "then now we are taking a giant leap into space."

Okayyyy, guys, we get it. Good job. Let's not overstate the matter here.

Seriously, I don't know where China intends to go from here, but I hope their addition to the space community gives NASA a much-needed shot in the butt to start seriously looking beyond near-earth orbit and expand their vision outward. I find myself strangely irritated every time I realize that I wasn't born yet when the last moon landing occured, and I'm kind of disappointed that we haven't been back, even to the moon, since.

I mean, shouldn't we have domed moon bases established by now? Shouldn't we be mining the moon for its rich helium -3 content and learning how to design other-worldly construction projects? I don't know. Maybe such things have been on the drawing boards for some time but are continually scrapped due to some failing here or there. I just think it's kind of disappointing that, in the four decades human beings have been exploring beyond the earth, we haven't been able to go farther. I understand that space does funny things to the human body, and we need time to address that, but I have a sneaking suspicion that we've just gotten lazy and have lost our imaginative spark.

There's a lot of space to discover. Let's get out there.

Posted by Ryan at October 15, 2003 11:42 AM
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