Chinese Space Programme – Junk in Orbit

Space junk in low earth orbit

Space junk in low earth orbit

I don’t mean to belittle the Chinese space programme, by the way. The BBC are reporting the historic first spacewalk by a chinese taikonaut. Well, let’s hope they watch out for all the space junk in orbit around the earth. (The graphic above, from NASA, is a visualisation of the debris in low earth orbit. There are lost tools, gloves, tiny fragments of spent rockets – any one of which could puncture a space suit: shields to maximum.)

(It’s a reflection of the spirit of the age that the BBC’s “Science and Nature” section has been renamed “Science and the Environment.” What’s happened to Nature?)

The BBC are generally positive about the Chinese mission. Meanwhile, over at the Telegraph, it’s telling that the most emailed story on their site at the moment is the one about the faked report. Apparently, the Chinese news agency issued the report on the taikonauts’ feelings about their first “night” in space before they had even launched. It’s business-as-usual for a totalitarian government.

(This is an example of how you should always check the facts in those press releases and news wire reports.)

There have always been conspiracy theories about the US space programme of the 60s and 70s – that the moon landings were faked, and so on. Now we can start one about the Chinese space programme of the early 21st century. You’ve got lies, damn lies, and press releases from state press agencies.