SPACEY CHINA: LEAVING THE U.S. ORBITING BEHIND?

ABDULLAH ALHAJERI WRITES – “We too will make satellites.” These are the words of the ever-ambitious Mao Zedong, late leader of the Republic of China — words that have since reigned true. Zedong had dreams of making China the powerhouse of not only Asia but the world. How positively spacey will China get?

In 1970, China’s zest for space travel was demonstrated by the launch of the 381-pound satellite Dong Fang Hong 1, overpowering one of the People’s Republic of China’s aerodynamic competitors, the Soviet Union, still glowing from its 1957 launch of Sputnik-1. Now, today — at exactly 3:39 pm October 31, 2022 – China’s Mengtian Module satellite blasted off from Hainan’s Wenchang Space Launch Site, then made its remarkable pre-docking landing at 4:27 am (China Standard Time), marking around 13 hours between the launch and land – and finally intimately docking with China’s Tiangong space station.

Back down to earth, space admirers, patriots, and the average gawker alike cheered the triumph (and hoped no used rocket parts would land on China when they eventually fell back to earth!).

Mengtian, defined as Dreaming of Heaven, was launched aboard the March-5B Y4 carrier rocket, and its landing was observed by a trio of Chinese astronomers. The launch of the satellite marks a remarkable victory for China’s Tiangong space station.

The Mengtian is the last of the three space modules expected at Tiangong Station. Along with its predecessors, the Tianhe, and the Wentian modules, the Mengtian will complete the station’s designed T-shape  operated by China Manned Space Agency (CMSA). The first-ever for Beijing designed exclusively for research purposes, the Mengtian Module boasts a myriad of scientific experiments aimed at developing China’s aerospace industry, specifically equipped for microgravity research. The module is to facilitate fluid research, combustion science, physics and aerospace technology.

The Tiangong Space Station, where the Mengtian was launched, is only one of two space stations Worldwide, the other being the International Space Station (ISS). Tiangong is roughly one-quarter the size of the ISS, and is only expected to operate for the next ten years — with plans to accommodate tourism! China’s aforementioned plans of aerodynamic grandeur also include building a base on the moon’s southern border by 2032.  China’s success has experts wondering if the U.S. is falling seriously behind in space exploration, a condition and a worry which is reminiscent of the U.S. space-race against the Soviet Union.

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