China’s launch can have positive effects for U.S.

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 16, 2003

The only real surprise about China’s first launch into space the other day was that it wasn’t done decades sooner. Those who well remember the Cold War might agree. China being the third super power in the world even back 50 years ago was the next likeliest candidate to create rockets and send astronauts around the globe as Russia and the United States have done.

Perhaps it was politics, economic restrictions or lack of exact scientific know-how that have kept that nation from making a giant leap up, up, up into space long ago.

Nonetheless, the Shenzhou 5 did successfully launch Tuesday and the encapsulated astronaut returned Wednesday evening our time. This brief excursion suggests to us that China has a ways to go before getting its &uot;space legs.&uot;


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More importantly, all this may spur the American space program back into action. Certainly the military will demand this, if only out of fear of the far-reaching consequences if someone else is in space other than the U.S. or Russia.

But we’re taking an optimistic look at the situation. NASA has a great opportunity to rebuild and then advance the space program. Further, if the U.S. and Russia could share knowledge of space exploration, there’s no reason why China could not do the same.

We wish China success in this and future ventures, as well as the day when American astronauts are back where they belong.