Shortly after the Chinese publicly announced to the world that it had succeeded with an ambitious space launch that includes time spent in a small space station, an unmanned US Air Force space plane landed in California.
The U.S. military space plane known as X-37 OTV is an unmanned robot plane (with what looks like three windows down the side). This military robot space plane just spent a super-secret fifteen months circling the earth in low orbit with a super-secret package aboard, which could be anything.
The X-37 was built by Boeing Government Space Systems. It weighs 11,000 pounds, stands 9.5 feet tall and is just over 29 feet long. This robot space plane was a NASA project before it was turned over to DARPA in 2004. While NASA has seen its funds cut, the military has seen its funds increased dramatically (more than double what it was in 2001). The 2012 Department of Defense budget is $707.5 billion (oh, and interest incurred on debt from past wars runs between $109.1–$431.5 billion annually).
China’s 2012 defense budget, on the other hand, is US$106.4 billion with no interest incurred from past wars since China hasn’t fought any for decades.
In 2001, US Military Spending was $307.8 billion; in 2002 – $328.7 billion; 2003 – $404.9 billion; 2004 -$455.9 billion; 2005 – $495.3 billion; 2006 – $535.9 billion; 2007 – $527.4 billion; 2008 – $494.4 billion; 2009 – $494.3 billion; 2010 – $712.0 billion, and 2011 – $658.7 billion.
Since the X-37 is now a military project, there is no way to discover exactly how much was spent unless someone at Boeing leaks the information.
How about the Chinese? Well, their most recent space mission is no secret. The Chinese have often been criticized in the West for lack of transparency, but when the US spends years on a military space project wrapped in secrecy, the Western media does not complain about that lack of transparency.
On the other hand, I approve of both America’s X-37 space project and China building a space station. In addition, China plans to colonize the moon and visit Mars in the near future. Maybe this will motivate America to seriously get back into the space game. A little competition could be a good thing.
Meanwhile, Sebastien Blanc writing for AFP, reports, “This is China’s most ambitious space mission so far. It is longer and more complex than anything previously done,” said Morris Jones, an Australian space expert.
“It shows that China is serious about its long-term goals in space. …
“Beijing has long maintained that the rapid development of its space capabilities is peaceful in nature, and the white paper reiterated this, saying Beijing “opposes weaponisation or any arms race in outer space.”
“But concerns remain over China’s intentions.”
Is anyone questioning America’s intentions?
After all, what nation has the largest military budget in the world; what nation is waging several military conflicts around the globe; what nation has several hundred military bases spanning the globe; what nation has the largest prison population on the planet; what nation has more than half the world aircraft carriers (eleven with three under construction), while China only has one and it was picked up used from Russia; what nation has the largest global weapons industry ($37.8 billion in 2008– Italy is number two with $3.7 billion in sales) and what nation is the only nation on earth to have ever used nuclear weapons during a war—twice?
Discover more at Growing Great Honor in One Lunar Leap
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.
Let’s remember the distinction between the US Air Force and NASA. One is military and the other is a government agency. If this is an Air Force space plane then, I would think, most likely it has weapon potential, otherwise NASA would be flying it to put up satellites etc. And if it is a military weapon program, well, that sounds good to me. The US needs to stay the leader in space no matter what it is. If we don’t own the high ground, someone else will. Just my two cents.
The commander-and-Chief if the US military is the President of the United States, which means the military is ruled by a civilian. Both the military and NASA serve the government and both Houses of Congress must approve any war a US president starts such as Vietnam and Iraq.
In addition, if the US government criticizes China for lack of transparency in its military, than the same criticism applies to the United States.
Of course, you are right that for the US to stay number one militarily in the world, it must be one or more steps ahead of everyone else in weapons development.
No one should know this better than the Chinese should. For centuries (actually thousands of years), China was ahead of the world in the development of weapons technology and when China fell behind in the 19th century it lost the two Opium Wars started by the British and French Empires leading to China’s decline that lasted from the middle of the 19th Century until recent years in the 21st century.
It was in China that the stirrup was invented changing warfare and giving China an edge for several centuries over the barbarian horse people that lived north of the Great Wall. Once the barbarians also developed the use of the stirrup, the Mongols came south of the Great Wall. Conquered China and established the Yuan Dynasty ruled by Kublai Khan (1271-1368 AD)
It was in China that gunpowder was invented, multi stage rockets (used in warfare), crossbows that were similar to today’s modern machine guns, and napalm, etc. All of these advances happened centuries before they appeared in the West.
However, once the secrets were out and China lost the edge, the West replaced China as the dominate global power.
Yes, it is highly possible that the Chinese have learned their lesson well and will stay as transparent as the US military is or maybe more so.
A chinese space station? Plans to go to the moon….and Mars? They are really on a roll and their national space program has just begun within the past 5-10 years
I feel the Chinese are more transparent about their projects because they want global attention. Transparency is what makes us American. We are a secretive nation. One doesnt need to look any further than the Groom Lake site in NV. We’ve made so many enemies over the years that anything inside our borders (including Wall Street) will eventually become classified to the global community.
A fun theory on the mission of the “robotic” shuttle is maybe aliens have returned for the Mayan end of the world and our top officials were taken on a “robotic” shuttle to space in order to communicate with them, possibly making plans on global annihilation over celebratory wine.
I’d be more inclined to see civilian space missions and sustainble biospheres on the moon. It’s funny how Hollywood 30 years ago predicted moon bases and “hyperdrives” capable of throwing junky looking space craft with artificial gravity into lightspeed. Yet reality is still moving at a snail’s pace. I’ll be 80 yrs old before any great leaps are made, which most likely it won’t be anything more than adding a 2nd floor to Wal-Mart and connecting them with an escalator.
I may see the Chinese reach the moon but that’s about it unless someone invents some sort of rocket engine that takes us to the stars overnight.