Press Release

Pandas in Orbit: China’s Space Challenge

By SpaceRef Editor
October 3, 2008
Filed under ,

Speakers: Dean Cheng Senior Asia Analyst, CNA Corporation

Scott Pace Director, Space Policy Institute, Elliott School for International Affairs, The George Washington University

Kevin Pollpeter China Program Manager, Defense Group Inc.

Host: John Tkacik Senior Research Fellow for China, Mongolia, and Taiwan, Asian Studies Center, The Heritage Foundation

Date: Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Time: 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Location: The Heritage Foundation’s Lehrman Auditorium

or call (202) 675-1752

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China’s Shenzhou-7 (pronounced “shun-joe”) manned space vehicle carrying three cosmonauts, China’s third manned-space mission, will launch between September 25-30. Beijing also hints at a manned lunar mission – which NASA Administrator Michael Griffin speculates could plant a Chinese flag on the Moon as early as 2017. By contrast, on October 10, NASA’s Atlantis Shuttle will service the Hubble telescope on one of its last high-profile missions before the Shuttle program retires in 2010, leaving the U.S. without a replacement spacecraft until 2015. In the interim, the United States will be dependent on Russian heavy-lift rockets and Soyuz spacecraft to reach the International Space Station. The median age for engineers in the U.S. space program is well over 50 (with 26% eligible to retire in 2008). The average age for Shenzhou program engineers is 36, and only 33 for China’s “Chang E” (pronounced “tchang-uh”) lunar program. In 10-20 years, China will have an immense pool of aerospace engineers with more experience than their U.S. counterparts.

Recently, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reportedly censored the NASA chief’s testimony to Congress on China’s space ambitions. Will America lose its space primacy? Does anyone care? Does it matter? Join us for an uncomfortable examination of these and other aspects of China’s space program.

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SpaceRef staff editor.