Monday, September 29, 2008

Taikonauts in Space!

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, many Americans showed interest and enthusiasm for space exploration, astronauts, cosmonauts -- all "of that Star Trek jive," as Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper put it ("Elvis Is Everywhere," 1987). Somewhere along the way, visible interest waned considerably. Why? I have no idea. What I do know is, now the People's Republic of China has an ambitious space program, most recently evidenced by a space walk made by hángtiānyuán / taikonauts.

The Chinese government has several things going on, ranging from Project 921 (starting to get people in space, which they began to achieve in 2003); building a space lab and space station that will be separate from the International Space Station (target date: 2010); mission to the Moon (human surface walks by 2024, followed by construction of a Moon base): and mission to Mars, with people beginning construction of a Martian base by ca. 2050.

Back in the USA today, Wall Street dropped 777 points (gee, does that make end-timers think of the mark of the Beast plus one-one-one?) and the USA is deeply indebted to its gigantic trading partner, China. In a sense, the USA and European (etc.) allies carry the torch for the Greco-Roman civilizations -- highly organized but warmongering, overextended and ultimately collapsing, absorbed by others. It wouldn't really be a great shock if this same process is now underway, or in the pipeline, would it? Meanwhile, the Chinese have remained around since even before the Greeks.

In any case, Chinese space participation will quickly up the number of fellow human space travellers. In the last fifty years, fewer than 500 people have been up (or is it out?) there -- and eighteen have died coming or going so far.

Today's Rune: Signals.


Lana Gramlich said...

I often wonder, myself, how space travel so quickly became passe with people. I'm still completely fascinated by it. I've even sat & watched the NASA channel on TV (w/the live feeds from the ISS.)
BTW, if you've never been, the astronaut memorial at Kennedy Space Center (& so much more,) is a real must see.

Bubs said...

A side note: on Saturday I was working at the Chicago PD Fusion Center (one of those command centers that's staffed by city, suburban, state and federal cops with all the computers and multiple TV screens) and there was very little on US TV about the Chinese space walk.

Al-Jazeera, on the other hand, was all over it. It was on Al-Jazeera off and on all day long.

Charles Gramlich said...

I admit to being surprised myself at how the average American just doesn't seem to give a damn about space exploration. FAscinating to me, as it is to Lana. *sweetums*