Could China's Long March 9 Reinvigorate U.S. Space Program?

RSS

After 25 years at Aviation Week in nine different jobs, it's hard not to have some memorable moments.

One that stands out is a celebration that Aviation Week held on Dec. 17, 2003, to commemorate the centennial of the Wright Brothers' first flight and look forward to what we dubbed The Next Century of Flight.

Three men who walked on the Moon and many other luminaries attended the event at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.

My favorite part of the evening was having an honest-to-God conversation with Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the Moon and Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 12. "How long will it be before we return to the Moon," I asked Bean.

"Twenty years," he opined. "But if the Chinese decide to go there, we'll do it in five."

"Go China!," I responded, reasoning that if the only way of getting some urgency back into the U.S. manned space program was a little competition, so be it.

Now, almost 10 years into the Next Century of Flight, it looks like China is getting serious about its own Moon plans, proposing a Long March 9 launcher more powerful than the Saturn V stack that first carried men to the Moon.

The 1960s space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was good for both countries, stirring national pride, helping to drive their economies and even providing some common ground at a time when both sides were also prepared for nuclear war. Maybe news of the new Chinese booster with the capability of carrying 287,000 lb. to low-earth orbit will motivate Republicans and Democrats alike to restore the U.S. to the space leadership position it achieved in the 1960s.

Good luck to the rocket men and women of China and the U.S.

Please or Register to post comments.

What's On Space?

On Space

A Century of Aviation Week

Aviation Week & Space Technology is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.

 

Aug 26, 2016
blog

When Aviation Week Was Accused of Treason -- The Back Story Revealed 7

A 1957 revelation that the U.S. was tracking Soviet missile launches from a secret radar in Turkey has its roots in sleuthing of students from Kettering Grammar School in the UK....More
Aug 23, 2016
blog

When Aviation Week Was Accused Of Treason 23

Aviation Week editors routinely get blowback when they write about sensitive topics, and the best example of that may be an October 1957 story that revealed the U.S. had been tracking Russian missile launches from advanced long-range radar units in Turkey....More
Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×