Monday, December 16, 2013

It's Official: We're Number 2

China has just soft-landed a rover on the Moon.

Seen on the My Way news feed on Sunday:

BEIJING (AP) - China's first moon rover has touched the lunar surface and left deep traces on its loose soil, state media reported Sunday, several hours after the country successfully carried out the world's first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades.
The 140-kilogram (300-pound) "Jade Rabbit" rover separated from the much larger landing vehicle early Sunday, around seven hours after the unmanned Chang'e 3 space probe touched down on a fairly flat, Earth-facing part of the moon.
State broadcaster China Central Television showed images taken from the lander's camera of the rover and its shadow moving down a sloping ladder and touching the surface, setting off applause in the Beijing control center. It said the lander and rover, both bearing Chinese flags, would take photos of each other Sunday evening.
Later, the six-wheeled rover will survey the moon's geological structure and surface and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will carry out scientific explorations at the landing site for one year.

I recall vividly the images from 20 July 1969 when Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon.  I was at a girlfriend's house, was due home on curfew, but didn't want to miss a moment of the historic event as it was broadcast on live TV (I stayed late and got in trouble).

Since then, things space have always fasincated me...I think it's an absolute travesty that the U.S. has so scaled back our manned space efforts.  The effort is expensive, sure, but we could easily squeeze it out of our bloated military budget.

Plus as the reality of man-made climate change sinks in, there may be immediate short-range benefits to mankind as this planet slowly sinks below the waves.  Translated: we may need an escape plan after we've finished trashing this pale blue dot.


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