China signals Lunar Landing within Decade…

…we were done with the moon, ANYWAY — STUPID MOON!
  — Jon Stewart

In a spot from The Daily Show four years ago, Jon Stewart pokes fun at the fact that India found water on the Moon, that the United States missed in the last forty years of exploration.  “Billions of gallons of it.”

Jon Stewart: “…I didn’t know NASA had a base in India!”
Aasif Mandvi: “THEY DON’T!  This is the Indian Space Research Organization!”

Parody aside, the latest space news is that the People’s Republic of China, the rising super-power directly challenging the United States’ unchallenged military presence on, above or AROUND the world, is now setting it’s sights on a lunar landing.

Launching its own [uninhabited] test space station, designated Tiangong 1 (Heavenly Palace 1) in 2011, the Tiangong Space Program is China’s attempt to place a large, modular space station in orbit by the beginning of the next decade.  From here, Chinese cosmonauts can conduct their own research and development, as well as support it’s own lunar program, free from the stranglehold the United States and it’s allies has had on Space for the last half-century.

China may be coming to space-faring late, compared to the United States, Russia and India, however, let’s look at the current setups: The United States has a minimal space program, with NO current flight ability of it’s own.  Astronauts/Cosmonauts from the United States require the use of launch vehicles and equipment from the Russian Federation (and to a limited point, at this time, private companies such as SpaceX) to reach, resupply or restaff its interests aboard the International Space Station.   Indeed, another sign of the times is the massive cut NASA took from the President’s pen, through Congress, in appropriations.  The Space Shuttle was retired.  The successor to the Space Shuttle, the Apollo-inspired Project Constellation, was cancelled, leaving the United States military and government’s ability to reach out to the stars in limbo for the foreseeable future.

Indeed, this was echoed by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.  “NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime,” he stated.

However, he continued: “…and the reason is, we can only do so many things,”

While he didn’t specifically elaborate, it’s possible that NASA’s future plans could lie elsewhere — specifically, landings on asteroids, or even Mars, in relatively short order.

While the cancellation of the Constellation Project puts a American landing on Mars anytime soon in question, as Orion was designed with the intention of being capable of travelling to both the Moon AND to Mars, will American innovation and the memories of the Space Race of the 1960s embolden American spirit in an even broader space race?

Why I am a Tibetan Blue Book Holder…

English: Emblem of Tibet, used by the Tibetan ...

Tibet is a very special place.  It’s not only home to the top of the world, it’s got a rich, deep, incredible history, including that of a mainstream branch of Buddhism.  It’s also smack in the center of what will arguably be the future hub of the world: Asia — almost exactly between China and India; the two major commerce centers of the future world.

Tibet was taken over by the People’s Republic of China in the 1950s, following the Chinese civil war, and has since maintained a death grip over the region.  As a province-level government, the Tibet Autonomous Region is managed by a Chairman that is subordinate to the Communist Party of China.  Indeed, any attempt at any form of full autonomy or separation from the PRC has met with the PRC government’s full force to quash.  Pro-independence arguers state that Human Rights abuses commonly associated with China take place in Tibet as much as anywhere else in the authoritarian nation.

Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama (Photo credit: Joi)

I’ve always been a believer in self-determination — in that the people of a region have a right to determine whether or not they are aligned with a government, or not; particularly if the government in question is particularly oppressive or does not hold the best interests of its people in mind.  Knowing China’s repression of civil and political freedoms as well as I do, I decided to financially support the Tibetan Government-in-Exile and accept a Blue Book from their Government.

Similar to that of a passport, the Tibetan Blue Book shows that the holder has officially become a “friend” of the Tibetan government and people, and have pledged to support their cause; as I had when I was invited to become a friend to the Tibetan people.

Lead by the spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, the Central Tibetan Administration is effectively the Tibetan government-in-exile, operating out of Himachal Pradesh, India with the 14th Dalai Lama as the Head of State.  The Buddhist philosophy of non-violence and spirituality has always served as a source of inspiration to me — and their political [if none other] oppression at the hands of the Chinese government has always served to me as a reminder of what complacency can do if we allow ourselves to serve the interests of a government, rather than the government serving the interests of US.

I am a Friend of Tibet.