China Takes Big Step On Its Journey To Mars, NASA Remains Grounded

REUTERS/China Daily

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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China recovered an experimental probe launched from a new rocket design Sunday, marking a big step forward in its plans to go to Mars by the end of the decade.

The probe was launched aboard a new Chinese rocket design Saturday from the country’s new Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on the southern island province of Hainan.

Since launching its first manned mission in 2003, China has sent up an experimental space station, staged a spacewalk and landed a rover on the moon. The country has also increased its cooperation in space with Europe and will launch its second space station this coming September. Meanwhile, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) hasn’t launched an astronaut into space since 2011 without the help of the Russians.

China plans to land a rover on Mars by 2020, while NASA was forced by the Obama administration to delay its Mars missions until 2030.

The Obama administration has twice stymied programs initiated during the Bush administration designed to take humans to Mars by leaking information to the press about them and threatening to veto the projects.

Obama has repeatedly tried to slash space exploration funding and redirect it to Earth science programs — which just so happen to include climate modeling programs to measure global warming. Obama increased NASA’s budget for these environmental programs by 63 percent.

The space agency’s budget includes more than $2 billion for its Earth Science Mission Directorate for global warming science, which is specifically allocated to improve climate modeling, weather prediction and natural hazard mitigation. In comparison, NASA’s other functions, such as astrophysics and space technology, are only getting a mere $781.5 and $826.7 million, respectively.

Even global warming alarmist Bill Nye the “Science Guy,” who’s also the CEO of the Planetary Society, has criticized Obama’s attempts to cut NASA’s space exploration and planetary science programs in favor of global warming. NASA’s planetary science program has previously held car washes and bake sales to gain political support to maintain funding.

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