Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 14, 2013

China Lands On The Moon

Congrats to China for successfully soft-landing its Chang'e-3 lunar probe and its rover on the moon. It is now the third nation which has done so. The lunar probe is later supposed to return to the earth. Good luck with that. China's next space program will likely be a manned moon program picking up where the United States ended its large space program.

Congratulations also to Iran which today for the second time lauched a "manned" space flight and successfully landed and recovered the ape that took the flight.

While the scientific values of these flights can be debated the excitement that comes from achieving such aims can not. China and Iran will both be proud of what they did and deserve to be lauded for this technical achievement.

Posted by b on December 14, 2013 at 13:31 UTC | Permalink


Hooray for both of them


Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 14 2013 15:13 utc | 1

Great news, especially considering China only created its space agency in 2000 and only first sent a man into Earths orbit in 2003. Look forward to seeing photographs taken from the Jade Rabbit rover, which should roll off the orbiter in the next 8 hours.

The scientific value of the mission I would argue comes from the institutional knowledge it will give the Chinese Space Agency. Giving the mission control staff experience in landing on a foreign moon and also the robotics required for such a mission, as well as any research done by the rover itself. But this is just one more step in China's "Long March" towards becoming a space superpower.

After this mission, I think the next big one will be around 2018 when the Chinese "Heavenly Palace" Space Station becomes functional, and think the goal is a manned moonwalk in 2020-22.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Dec 14 2013 15:23 utc | 2

Maybe they'll be the first to put a man on the moon, as well! ;)

Posted by: JSorrentine | Dec 14 2013 15:49 utc | 3

well done !

considering that in 1949 china had zero industrial base, even stuff like the humble nails had to be imported from oversea.
china has come a long way.

Posted by: denk | Dec 14 2013 15:58 utc | 4

"Simulations back up theory that Universe is a hologram"

I'd like to think that our eyes are set on star-to-star space travel, but news like this will force us back into Plato's cave to mindlessly watch shadows dancing on the wall.

Posted by: Cynthia | Dec 14 2013 16:55 utc | 5

theory that Universe is a hologram

I'm pretty sure I came up with that theory once... while on Magic Mushrooms :S

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Dec 14 2013 18:03 utc | 6

Congratulations to both countries. These are important stepping stones. This isn't like
driving a car you bought at the dealer. It would be supremely difficult to learn how to
operate a space ship you bought from another country. Also, not having multiple human
space programs limits the 'gene pool' (that is, restricts the technological lineage, which
can lead to a kind of myopic degeneration).

Anyway, I've quoted Larry Niven before, and I'll do it again:

“The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program. And if we become extinct because we don't have a space program, it'll serve us right!”

― Larry Niven

On a slight tangent...

If anyone wants to get a feel for how difficult space flight is, there's an excellent game
I can suggest:

Kerbal Space Program

It is very realistic, frustrating, hilarious, and eminently satisfying.

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Dec 14 2013 18:19 utc | 8

Colm O' Toole@6,

LSD also works pretty well at stimulating brain-environment interactions. In fact, I think this drug was discovered in Switzerland, which happens to be the country where the Blue Brain Project is being launched. Don't underestimate those crazy Swiss scientists, even if Henry Markram, who is chief among them, is a product of both South African and Israeli apartheid. ;~)

Posted by: Cynthia | Dec 14 2013 19:22 utc | 9

@7 Oh man, the idea of dinosaurs with a space program is way cool. Maybe they did, and they'll return to Earth just as the last people are suffocating from pollution and climate change and repopulate the planet.

In any case this would be an awesome movie.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 14 2013 20:54 utc | 10

celebrate with!

but with more space missions comes more space pollution and littering, naturally this is ignored

from WALLE

Posted by: brian | Dec 14 2013 23:00 utc | 11

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Dec 14, 2013 1:19:02 PM | 7

the dodo and Moa are also extinct... cause they didnt have space programs?

sorry Niven but no!

Posted by: brian | Dec 14 2013 23:04 utc | 12

It Pays to Advertise dept...
Imo sending rockets to the Moon is only incidentally about the Moon and is much more of a publicity stunt. The Moon is merely a rocketeer's benchmark. There are millions of more interesting (and hospitable) destinations right here on Earth.

If one Googles China destroys satellite, the list of items in the search result strongly suggests that China is determined to develop an effective satellite-destroying capability, just in case the Yankees get too uppity. If that happens, there are circa 100 US satellites which would need to be destroyed in order to 'contain' its Global Reach capabilities.

If this mission meets all of its objectives then we may safely assume that its satellite destruction capability is close to being Fully Operational.

Yankees talk too much.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 15 2013 0:27 utc | 14

Posted by: rammstein landed first | Dec 15 2013 3:08 utc | 15
better resolution

Posted by: rammstein landed first | Dec 15 2013 3:10 utc | 16

the end to manned spaceflight? a cloud of spaced junk

Spacejunk..and theres lots of it. Did the technocrats foresee this? It may soon be difficult for spacecraft to leave Earth...and this is only after 50 years!
We're surrounded by SPACE JUNK: Incredible image reveals the disused rockets and abandoned satellites that orbit Earth
Each sphere in the image represents an existing object orbiting in space
There are around 22,000 objects in orbit that are big enough to track
Many are 'space junk' such as old rockets and abandoned satellites
It is estimated as many as 370,000 pieces of space junk are floating in Earth's orbit, travelling at speeds of up to 22,000 mph

The amount of space junk orbiting Earth has reached a tipping point.
According to Nasa, this junk – which can include anything from old rockets, abandoned satellites to missile shrapnel - will soon make it difficult for spacecraft to leave the planet.

Posted by: brian | Dec 15 2013 10:31 utc | 17

It's out of topic, but if with only 200,000 people the Ukrainians get MPs and MacCain, I hope the French and the Brits know what they should do next!

Posted by: Mina | Dec 15 2013 11:36 utc | 18

Joke from another forum: "International Space Station was broken at the same time when Iran's trained monkey went into space, coincidents? I think not!" :))

Posted by: Harry | Dec 15 2013 12:09 utc | 19

@ 16. It's about statistical odds, not big numbers. My favourite lottery has odds of just under 80 million to 1. Despite the fact that 10s of millions of punters are trying to arrange a 'collision' between their numbers and the winning numbers, hardly anyone wins 1st Prize - which jackpots ~3 times more often than it is won. Similarly, if you want to see a 'shooting star' just watch the sky on any clear night and you'll see one in less than an hour. There's lots of 'junk' up there and only a proportion of it has Earthly origins. When you take tracking into account, the odds of being killed by a space-junk mishap are so remote that the first person to die that way will be considered "lucky" (in a funny kind of way).

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 15 2013 12:16 utc | 20

posted by: Harry | Dec 15, 2013 7:09:54 AM | 19

the 100th monkey!

Posted by: brian | Dec 15 2013 13:56 utc | 21

Well the US boosted the Global Space Race after being severely challenged by the USSR with its, at that time, somewhat technical superiority. The US won, accompanied by a lot of image trickery, propaganda, say.

Followed that going into Space became a PR exercise - it gets ppl fired (sic) up - exploring and conquering space became a standard of power and pride. At the same time control of satellites, space technology, etc, mostly hidden from the public, became important. Two facets exist: National Pride at Excitingly Exploring Space, and strategic interests. How they intertwine or meld I have no idea. As usual, there are of course the techno-types on the teat who hype while seeking massive funding.

So the Space Race gets going again with new versions of one up-manship ...Not good. Man cannot dominate space or use it in any credible, useful, way (and why should we anyway?) except as symbols or advances in a techno- arms- race.

Didn’t know there was so much junk in space. Thanks for the links about that.

Iran and China would do better to challenge the US on stuff like a cure for some diseases, better agri practices, better education, or even super child musicians or whatever star stuff.

Sigh .. that wouldn’t have much punch...

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 15 2013 14:23 utc | 22

The US won, accompanied by a lot of image trickery, propaganda, say.
I'd be interested to know what you mean by that, Mina. When I first came online, in 2002, the 9/11 controversies were building up in a fascinatingly complex way, and one of them concerned a tendency to associate the thesis of 9/11 trickery with successively more and more far-fetched theses about trickery in other historical events, from the JFK assassination to the moon landing. My immediate impression, which I stick by, is that at least one of the 9/11 pundits involved in this is a conscious fraud (somewhat like a pseudo-gang leader in guerrilla warfare). This person managed in 2006 to split the original 'Scholars for 9/11 Truth' by insisting on linking 9/11 with his own hypothesis that the moon landings never happened, that they were video artefacts. Thankfully, they got rid of him, but he took the group's original name with him, so that the remaining people, the genuine ones, had to change their own name (becoming 'Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice'). Finally, this awful person sponsored a young lady academic who presented a case that the Twin Towers were demolished by space beams, from orbit. All this provided me with a wonderful introduction to the use of pseudo-gang tactics on the internet. And for me the crux was his assertion that the moon landings were video fakery. It could, I suppose be true. But it's utterly irrelevant to 9/11, and obviously reduces the credibility of any 9/11 case. Anyway, Mina, do you imagine any of the moon landing films were actually fake?

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 15 2013 17:33 utc | 23


I originally never entertained notions that moon landings in which man landed on the moon were fake but after having pored over the evidence for years I do you think it was a load of horsesh!te that the Russians for some reason or other - e.g. they were faking stuff, too - went along with. I understand that this is one conspiracy that many - especially Americans - will not entertain whatsoever but after examining the available evidence - as I did with 9/11 - I have to conclude that no person has been on the moon. Best reasons:

1) Van Allen radiation belt through which no one - but especially w/ 1960's tech - could pass through and survive
2) Photographs from moon with IDENTICAL backgrounds taken from multiple locations many kms apart as if they were part of a Kubrick stage (nudge,wink)
3) Photographs by astronauts which were supposedly taken from a chest-mounted camera and had no view-finder but which were miraculously framed to capture the astronauts and other subjects perfectly - ie. nearly NO bad shots.
4) Shadows on moon in photos are all wrong, lighting is way off.
5) No stars in any of photographs and no good explanation as why none exist.
6) no way 1960s technology no matter how advanced - especially computers on lander and lunar orbiter - could do what they NASA said it did
7) the fact that ALL OF THE ORIGINAL moon landing telemetry data - ie., flight data, fuel stats, navigation stats - are missing and are presumable lost. NASA's excuse was that the tapes were taped over b/c there was a shortage of tape at the time(!). Thus, the only surviving footage is the television footage which is a secondary source.
8) movements of astronauts in "weightless" environment don't jive w/ reality.

I understand how crazy it makes people sound but I really think if people spent more time looking at the photographs and really thinking about how amazingly preposterous those missions were and how how quickly NASA supposedly overcame so many technical hurdles to get to the moon, a rational person will at the very least give the manned moon landings about a 50-50 chance of having really happened. I believe it was much less likely now.

Here are some sites to get you started if you are really interested. The Dave McGowan multi-part piece "Wagging the Moondoogie" is an entertaining read for even true believers. There's a lot out there - much like 9/11 - and it takes time but I've come to the conclusion that NASA's version of the story is nonsense. Again, like 9/11 there are people who can debunk every single point of evidence but at the end of the day a person has to be their own judge. Cheers.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Dec 15 2013 23:27 utc | 24

The moon landings were fake???
Some of the smartest, non-political people in the world - scientific experts in Astronomy, Physics, rocket science, etc. etc. have been studying the moon landings for decades. It has been a major part of the study of the understanding of the solar system & the universe itself for the scientific community.
All these brilliant people were fooled, but a couple of dedicated people with generally no scientific background know it is all fake!!!!

This is not 9/11 people...

PS. congrats to both China & Iran on their scientific progress. I'm glad some governments are still looking to the stars.

Posted by: KenM | Dec 16 2013 0:03 utc | 25

It reflects a strange meltdown of basic credulity, to embrace the notion that the moon missions were fakes; seeing as how such events, and years of preparations, were covered by real journalists, not today's infotards. We saw astronauts going up the gantry, crossing the gangway in their bulky suits, being bolted into the spacecraft in broad daylight. There was no CGI back then, no digital video. We saw the Saturn 5, one of the most awesome of rocket engines to ever ignite. The assembled thousands of spectators, there in person for the launch, felt the gigantic rumble of those engines resonating in their anuses, as well as the tumultuous shaking of the ground under their shoes, caused by millions of pounds of thrust, that were hoisting those gentlemen on their way to the moon.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 16 2013 0:14 utc | 26

I haven't really studied the lunar landings but it seems to me that if they faked Apollo 11, they were taking a huge and unnecessary risk by faking Apollo 12-17. Apollo 13 was the aborted mission made into a Tom Hanks movie: if they were all faked you have to give the hoaxers some credit for their sense of drama.

9/11 OTOH, has so many holes in the official narrative, so many unexplained events, WTC 7 being only the most commonly sited. But equally incriminating is the statistically impossible options trading on the major airlines and main insurers of WTC, and the fact that the FBI, CIA or whoever made no effort to investigate who was behind it. Talking about the moon landings, even if fake, only dilutes the message.

By contrast, the JFK assassination/coup is useful to discuss as many people who aren't yet ready to grasp 9/11 might still contemplate a government hit on the late president.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 16 2013 2:13 utc | 27

Dr. Wellington Yueh | Dec 14, 2013 1:19:02 PM | 8

Thanks. Love that!

However, Niven's thesis overlooks the unfortunate fact that even a fucked up Earth would be easier to live on than any of the alternatives in 'outer space' that are currently known of, and speculated about.
All of the experimental efforts to construct an Earth-like self-sustaining environment (with good agricultural prospects etc) in a bubble have failed quickly and dismally. It's always going to be much easier to look after this Earth than to succumb to daydreams about building a better one somewhere else.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 16 2013 2:45 utc | 28

Rowan, you work too much. I was talking about Ukraine. Not much to say about the Jade rabbit on the moon and the monkey in heaven, I must admit. "It's your money they shoot in the sky". Full point.

Posted by: Mina | Dec 16 2013 17:45 utc | 29

"...always going to be much easier to look after this Earth..."
I think the idea of actual stewardship of the planet is not very attractive to the fantasists who have escapist ideas re: Earth. There has been a consistent and powerful narrative by Hollywood films, TV, by govt agencies, particularly NASA and DOD, to feed space fantasy to any who might be turned on by it. I'm agree entirely with Noirette,
"Two facets exist: National Pride at Excitingly Exploring Space, and strategic interests."
Remember that NASA justified "manned space flight" because they didn't think the public would support big budget unmanned exploration. DOD announced before Kennedy's 'put an man on the moon' speech that US must control space. Now we know that space is 100 times more hostile environment than anyone imagined before Apollo. The whole 'space program', IMHO, was always about militarizing space. AND, very little useful science has come from manned flight, but tremendous science has come from unmanned flight. Noirette again:
"Iran and China would do better to challenge the US on stuff like a cure for some diseases, better agri practices, better education, or even super child musicians or whatever star stuff."

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 16 2013 23:27 utc | 30

@KenM | 25

"The moon landings were fake???
Some of the smartest, non-political people in the world - scientific experts in Astronomy, Physics, rocket science, etc. etc. have been studying the moon landings for decades. It has been a major part of the study of the understanding of the solar system & the universe itself for the scientific community.
All these brilliant people were fooled, but a couple of dedicated people with generally no scientific background know it is all fake!!!!"

You put a lot of faith in academic community, especially one which is tightly coupled with politics. I can name many cases in history when scientists lie, and not just one organization like NASA (which could have easily faked moonlanding) and other scientists (who could only examine in the context of titbits NASA provided, it was impossible to check veracity with '60 technology on their own), but entire academic community.

As a child I was hugely impressed by moonlanding, but as I grew up, I realized it wasnt that important, funds could have been much better spend elsewhere. Who really cares if US moonlanded or not? It captures imagination, nothing more.

I also studied history, which is my passion, and I found out that lying is the second nature of not only politicians, but same applies to corporations a la NASA, and even academic community in general can lie too (because of many reasons: funding, prejudice, ideology, World-view bias, etc).

Let me mention couple of such big examples (moonlanding is nothing comparing to those):

1. Life comes from matter. We are all taught its a scientific fact, whether you live in US or China. Is it really? When I studied deeper, I found out it was never proven, and the theory itself has many unexplainable holes. If textbooks would claim its the most wide-spread theory, I would be fine with that, but its not whats being said, isnt?

2. Same with evolution. Everyone is taught its a proven fact and cant even imagine it can be otherwise. But if you study deeper you'll see its another unproven theory, which contradicts some known facts (read "Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race"). Or how Professor N. Heribert-Nilsson (Sweden, Lund University) wrote: “It is not even possible to make a caricature of evolution out of paleobiological facts." Even Darwin himself doubted his theory, and yet current academic community imprinted hard in our brains its a fact, even though it never was proven, while filtering out facts which doesnt play nice with their theory.

Academic community lies too, and understanding of who we are, where we came from affects our entire lives.

Posted by: Harry | Dec 17 2013 9:02 utc | 31

So that would be ... NASA faked the Moon Landing and God faked evolution ?

Posted by: john francis lee | Dec 17 2013 9:38 utc | 32

I can't believe that so many here believe what they "saw" like you are watching some magic show. You are supposed to be thinkers.

I'll add two addition points to JSorrentine 's list if anyone is interested in finding out how deep the rabbit hole is:-

(1) Australian newspapers carried numerous reports of a satellite orbiting at the time Apollo was on its way to the moon.

(2) Try finding any technical information about the Apollo missions. I don't mean PR blurbs or long-winded waffle - but technical information (fuel loads, trajectories, computer program algorithms). I tried a number of times, many years ago. Nada, zilch, nothing. Good luck with that one.

Oh - and another just for luck. Use a stop-watch and a calculator, and compute the propagation delay from the "TV shows". And don't be fooled by the false logic "refutation" used to "debunk" the propagation delay problem. I've read some laughable "explanations" from "NASA scientists".

Anyway - I'm not trying to convince anyone. You have to think for yourself without relying on priests/wizards ("scientists say").

Posted by: DM | Dec 17 2013 11:41 utc | 33

Rowan was quoting me above so I’ll respond. (Moon Landings US.)

What is evident is that some of the pictorial material used to attest and celebrate the event was doctored/faked. This is quite normal for the US and the times. You’d want lovely images, no?

About the Moon.

The moon day / night is 14 earth days for each (cycle of 28 days.) Some parts may (?) always be dark (deep in a crater, poles). The atmosphere is a vacuum, so during the day it is extremely hot, and the night very cold. According to one site, the cold can reach - 238 C (N pole crater) and - 247 C (S pole crater).

An ‘average’ seems to be? from -200 to +200.

Presumably, it is thus -200 at the end of the moon night (at X spot), and when the sun hits, or begins to grip, the temp slowly rises from -200 to +200 during the moon day, over, thus, 14 earth days.

One would want to land in the middle of the moon day - at the chosen spot, and for a manned flight.

No idea at what rate the temp. rises but if constant, then 7 days into the moon’s day, it is zero degrees and rises 28 degrees per the following 24 hour chunks.

Landing at any other time than moon midday would be madness or impossible. (Rough of course.~)

At moon midday - zero degrees C - you have quite some time available for strolling around. That said, the temps. will vary a lot depending on where you go - in shade or in sunlight (depending on the length of time the shade lasts, etc.: grotto vs. sunny terrace on earth..)

It is most curious that this simple night/day issue is seemingly (from the few sites I have read - wiki or NASA) not gone into. As you can see in pix the astronauts wore very shiny suits - that is to reflect the sunlight away and stop the human from boiling.

Examining the Appollo 11 pictures, one notes that there are a lot of images that are: artists renditions (drawn..) - reconstructions (say, photoshop) - extremely realistic photos of training exercises on Earth. Plus, some fanciful made up stuff. All labelled as such or are clear from the content / context. (Some of these then become passed off as ‘real’.)

Then, there are some pix that seem to hover between reconstructed, enhanced, mucked about with, in various ways. Merely sorting the chaff from the wheat (original photos or film from the rest) is extremely difficult. TV / other images of the time were in B _W, and most of ‘our’ images are in color.

Look here for ex. What status does this pic have? - click on toggle top for pic full size

The LM (machines overall..) is highlighted and looks sorta unreal, too bright. The ‘seismic equipment’ (??) to the right of ‘Aldrins’ casts shadows - the light coming from the right - partly over the astronaut’s boot but with a white dot, and weird overall, while the LM casts no shadow. The blue and gold colors are clearly added on (fairy lights on the LM!) .. and if you compare the ground to what rises above you can see that some parts have been whitened / lightened. (Inexpertly.)

The pic is on the NASA website (small size.)

By no means the most bizarre pic.

Is this an original that was ‘enhanced’ or just plain fakery? How to decide? This is why moon conspiracist scream fake, understandably. Picture like this are rubbish.

Back to the main point. All the pix, of any kind, of Apollo 11 show night - deep black sky with no stars - with light coming from one direction or another, lighting the ground somewhat, it is always clearly visible, and ‘highlighting’ the central elements: human figures, LM, machinery, the flag. Following on, they were taken at dusk or dawn, with the sun just ‘coming in’, ‘going down’... I don’t think so would have been too hot or too cold.

Heh. Just to show how difficult all this is. :) And that pix are obviously altered for prop purposes.

The Chinese clearly landed (from pix) during the day.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 17 2013 15:25 utc | 34

Oh, Noirette, I'm sorry. That's the second time I've mixed you and Mina up. My mind is always somewhere else. Like Mina says, I work too hard.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 17 2013 17:22 utc | 35

No prob Rowan, have a beer or your favorite tipple. Cheers!

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 17 2013 18:50 utc | 36

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