James Rummel of Hell in a Handbasket posts that he's not all that worked up about China's recent orbiting a manned spacecraft. He writes:
So why hasn't an old space and technology enthusiast like me talking about it much?I left him this comment:
Pretty much because I'm in waiting mode. What am I waiting for? I'm waiting for the Chinese to do something original, something that we didn't do more than 30 years ago.
Just my 2¢:
China has (at the moment) the only kind of government that can pursue an ambitious space program - a dictatorship. More precisely, a well funded dictatorship.
If you accept (as I do) that the future of mankind rests in getting our genome off this planet, then exploring and colonizing space is a high priority in and of itself. But it's expensive, and the free nations of the world have pretty much demonstrated that they're not willing to pony up the dough required to build an infrastructure capable of getting us off Earth in any permanent manner. (Or apparently in much of the way of a temporary manner, come to think of it.)
For the military, the high ground is best, and space is that high ground. Untold mineral wealth exists in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. There's literally unlimited acreage and power just within our solar system.
But the entry cost is high.
China can be the nation that gets there firstest with the mostest.
They may actually have that vision. They may have the necessary will. We're providing the money (Thanks, Walmart!) and we've already provided most of the technology. They've got the necessary scientific minds (take a look at the postgraduate Physics departments of most major universities here.)
Pardon me if the idea that space will be the domain of Red China a bit disturbing.
We should have had a lunar colony twenty years ago, and we should be exploring the asteroid belt now.