China to Learn Lessons from Columbia Shuttle Crash

China will soon launch its first manned spacecraft

"Failure is the mother of success," said Qi Zaikang, an aircraft engineer at the Beijing University of Science and Engineering, quoted by the government's Xinhua News Agency. "The key is to learn lessons from this - to do our own things better and smoothly fulfil the Chinese nation's dream of flying to space," said Tu Shou'e, a space technology expert at the China Science Academy, quoted Monday by People's Daily.

It is clear from these quotes: China is strongly determined to succeed in the field of manned space flights. It goes without saying that they do not want mother failure of be of the Chinese nationality. We would like to remind here that the tragedies with manned spacecraft have happened twice and the Soviet Union (four cosmonauts died) and four times in the USA (17 astronauts died). Other countries have not had such a sad experience, for there are only two countries that are in the so-called manned space flights club. Yet, there is another candidacy to join the club – China has submitted its application for that.

Columbia was launched in space at the end of the Year of the Horse in the Gregorian calendar, and it crashed on the first day of the Year of the Sheep in the Chinese calendar. There is a strange coincidence: this was exactly the time, when China successfully completed its tests with Shenzhou spacecraft, the pioneer of the Chinese space travelling. Doesn’t it seem to be symbolic?

Unmanned Shenzhou 4 spacecraft (translated as a ‘magic boat’) was launched on December 30th, 2002. It landed on January 5th, 2003. After that the Chinese government officially announced that Shenzhou 5 would be launched in space with a man on board. This event is expected to happen not later than at the end of the current year. "The Columbia accident has no direct impact on our space cause," said Min Guirong, an expert at China's Space Technology Institute, also quoted in Beijing Youth Daily.

Needless to mention that China is not that interested in the technological side of the tragedy with the shuttle of Columbia – in contrast to Russia and the USA. Who knows, maybe China will soon decide to share Russia’s problems with the International Space Station, if the USA prefers to put an end to its manned space flights program?

Andrey Krushinsky

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

Author`s name Olga Savka