Tuesday, October 30, 2007

China Goes for Second Phase of Lunar Program

With the successful launch of China's first unmanned lunar satellite (Chang'e 1) mission, it now goes ahead for the next phase of its lunar program which will eventually lead to the sending of the first Chinese taikonaut to Earth's nearest neighbor. While it has no timetable for this milestone, Luan Enjie, the chief commander of the country's lunar orbiter project, says there are big hurdles to go over, like technical problems, and lots of money to spend. Luan says there is yet no timetable as to when that will be. I guess that means other countries like Japan can still try to be the first from East Asia.

Coincidentally, a Chinese company called Lunar Embassy has begun to sell real estate property on the moon. For those in the know, there is also a company in the US with the same name that also has the same business. What's the relation of the two companies? Well, the owner of the Chinese company, Li Jie (sounds like Jet Lee), says he had already spoken to the owner of the US company, Dennis Hope, before. There seems to be no conflict of interest in selling the same thing to different people, but then again, it's just the fancy "land title" certificate that people pay for anyway. You can't really claim land on the moon or any other body in space.

In more serious matters, Google, which has developed an online cartographic service of the Earth and the Moon (Google Earth and Google Moon), has launched a contest with a $30 million pot money to whoever gets a robot on the moon. Click here to find out more.

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