Thursday, September 25, 2008

Restoring National Pride

Just in time to distract people's attention from the devastating milk food scandal that is spreading almost around the world, China launched Shenzhou VII, a spacecraft carrying three astronauts into space tonight.

With so much media attention covering it, everyone tuned in to watch the historic event, broadcast live around the world.

Almost every detail (save for confidential information) was revealed, including that the three astronauts, called taikonauts in Chinese, were monitored carefully and staff weren't even allowed to shake their hands for fear of spreading germs to them.

In the last few days there were pictures showing control centre staff checking every piece of equipment that seemed to look on the antiquated side.

And there was lots of pride about the "indigenous" space suit, but really most of the research was helped out by the Russians.

But the highlight will be the spacewalk on Saturday afternoon, called an "extra vehicular activity".

The astronaut will basically retrieve a piece of lubrication material on the outside of the spacecraft, only to prove the Chinese can do this, not because a procedure needs to be completed.

Nevertheless, the launch at 9:10pm has given the Chinese a brief but optimistic view of the country's advance into space.

So if they can send an astronaut on a spacewalk, making sure people can drink safe milk should be a piece of cake.

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