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Chang’e Is Home

The CBC reports that China lands rover on the moon

China on Saturday successfully carried out the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades, state media said, the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon.

The unmanned Chang’e 3 lander, named after a mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, touched down on Earth’s nearest neighbor following a 12-minute landing process.

The probe carried a six-wheeled moon rover called “Yutu,” or “Jade Rabbit,” the goddess’ pet. After landing Saturday evening on a fairly flat, Earth-facing part of the moon, the rover was slated to separate from the Chang’e eight hours later and embark on a three-month scientific exploration.

I wish them luck and hope they discover a lot of new things about our nearest neighbor. It’s comforting that at least some people think discovery is important.

Update from the BBC – Jade Rabbit has ‘hopped’ out of Chang’e's ‘lap’ and is playing on the lunar surface. The Chinese have estimated a three month mission for Jade Rabbit and a year for Chang’e, but US experience on Mars shows that a much longer life is very possible.

5 comments

1 Steve Bates { 12.15.13 at 10:58 am }

Congrats to China, which seems determined to pick up the baton in nonmilitary use of space. America damned surely isn’t doing it, not since Saint Ronald Reagan gutted the nonmilitary space program.

2 Badtux { 12.15.13 at 12:11 pm }

Actually, Nixon gutted the nonmilitary space program (thus the cancellation of the last two Apollo missions) and Ford and Carter continued the gutting (thus the crippled beta-quality Space Shuttle, which never got the extended period of test and refinement that would have turned it into an economical space plane, instead at a certain point the beta product was finalized as “the” product and that was that). All Reagan did was continue the policies of his three predecessors. Space simply hasn’t been a priority for the ferret-like attention span of the American public since the day that Neil Armstrong bounded around on the moon, which was pretty cool but hey, look over there, it’s Miley Cyrus twerking! Sigh.

- Badtux the Cynical Penguin

3 Bryan { 12.15.13 at 1:12 pm }

I updated for Jade Rabbit’s roll off.

Yep, this is your government acting like a ‘business’, and looking at ‘return on investment’, except no one ever seems to question the ROI on the failed anti-missile system, or hundreds of other boondoggles that have been pushed by the military-industrial complex. A decent ‘space plane’ would have had to be cheaper than the F-35.

4 Badtux { 12.18.13 at 12:25 am }

I don’t think it was even that much, Bryan. The majority of Americans were all behind space exploration when it was all about beating the Reds to the moon. But once we got to the moon, it was “oh look, there’s a pop icon dancing dirty!” and the ferret-like attention of the American people moved on. Without a huge constituency behind it, it’s hard to get political support for anything. One reason the F-35 has had such a zombie-like existence is that the contractors spread it out across virtually every state, so people in almost every state are calling their legislators every time it’s threatened with cancellation. But the space program after Apollo 11 was never big enough to do that…

5 Bryan { 12.18.13 at 10:43 pm }

People became insular for a very long time beginning in Nixon’s second term, and I don’t think it will end any time soon because of all of the problems they have making ends meet these days. It’s hard to dream when you are looking for a job.