Jul 07 2008

Comments on China and Comets…

Thanks to E.P. Grondine for interesting comments this morning on “10 Reasons China is Good for Space,” particularly with respect to the comet/asteroid threat issue.

For example, “…Neither “football game” nor “cold war’ is the correct analogy, as neither accounts for cometary and asteroid impact . The currently emerging facts about asteroid and comet impact have severe implications for all existing frameworks of political-economic analysis…”

‘Football game’ and ‘cold war’ are functional approaches that competing groups could use to organize their assets for an important task. In a pro football game there are high stakes and a large engaged audience, but there are also rules, schedules, and a framework of cooperation within which the competition occurs. In ‘cold war’ there’s little cooperation and the atmosphere is generally hostile. So doing an asteroid mitigation program in either program mode (especially ‘cold war’), might be inefficient and uncoordinated.

Much closer cooperation would be possible with a truly global space organization like “Interspace” that may be formed after 2013 as a result of Maslow programs and/or asteroid/comet threats.

In an earlier post (“Mars vs the Moon…”) I contrasted ‘Survival’ vs. ‘Maslow’ programs. Asteroid or comet mitigation is one example of a ‘Survival’ program; it might have the same strategic priority as war. A ‘Maslow’ program can be either a Great Exploration (e.g., Apollo) or a Macro-Engineering Project (e.g., Panama Canal). The key difference is Survival programs are threat-driven (just like a traditional war) and so can occur at any time. However, Maslow programs are easier to forecast (see this Weblog!) because they are driven by major, twice-per-century economic booms that elevate society to high levels in Maslow’s heirarchy; this momentarily creates a societal mindset — “ebullience” — highly supportive of major technology/exploration initiatives.

Grondine continues, “China’s space leadership will be pursuing CAPS (the Comet and Asteroid Protection System) like a laser, with major decisions to be undertaken in 2016. China will seek international partners … the reactions of Japan, Europe, the US, Russia … to these invitations to cooperation are unclear.”

I’m not aware of China’s interest in asteroid mitigation so I emailed Rusty Schweickart this morning. Rusty indicated that, although China is a member state for Action Team 14 (NEO), he’s unaware of any specific interest in NEO deflection. But obviously it would be very welcome! Incidentally, Grondine’s 2016 timeframe is consistent with the opening of the 2015 Maslow Window.

One response so far

One Response to “Comments on China and Comets…”

  1. E.P. Grondineon 09 Jul 2008 at 3:27 am

    At some point Astronaut Schweickart will be briefed, either by the US or by China.

    Note that after Chang’e 3 (the lunar sample return), China’s next exploration space probe is scheduled to be what their space leadership has called a “Deep Impact” type probe.

    It will be interesting to see if China uses the United Nation’s Action Team 14 (for Near Earth Objects; NEOs) of COPUOS, or Schweickart’s Association of Space Explorers (ASE) Committee on NEOs for information exchange, and what role their veteran taikonauts may play in these and public discussion.

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