Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Yay! If all goes as planned in two days China will launch Chang'e 2 (at 6:59 pm), and just five days after that we will have a new probe orbiting the Moon. Chang'e 2 resembles the first probe Chang'e 1 quite a bit, but one noticeable difference is that it will orbit at a distance of just 100 km (instead of 200 km), and has a higher resolution camera.
The Wall Street Journal is calling this a space race between China and India / Japan, and there's nothing wrong with a little friendly competition there. As I often say, the fact that the Moon is so easy to get to that these three nations are easily able to have a space race all their own will make it next to impossible for the US to ignore the Moon and concentrate entirely on the planned mid-2030s Mars flyby that was announced, as between now and then for all we know China, India and Japan will have their own bases on the Moon and the chance that the US will just twiddle its thumbs in anticipation for a Mars flyby is pretty much nil, IMO. The asteroid flyby is a good idea though.