Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Science and Technology Museum



Through a family connection, a department head in the space and aeronautics division of the Science and Technology Museum (he's a researcher, not curator) gave us a brief tour of the space exhibit, with real satellites hanging from the ceiling and other gadgets that are fully operational (we were told they're the backups, making this place the sideline of China's space program, I suppose).

I bring this up in light of Time's article last week about China's space program. The country has already helped countries like Brazil put satellites in space, and now it wants to be bigger player on this front. For $40 million -- half the price the Americans, Europeans and Russians charge -- China can put a commercial satellite in space, and if the country's latest venture is successful, it would indeed be, as Time puts it, "a major leap forward."

Of course, you can't have a story without your stock Chicken Little quote from Yet Another Concerned Congressman:

Not everyone sees it that way. Addressing the House of Representatives Science and Technology Full Committee on Wednesday, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher stressed that any rule revision must ensure "nations who proliferate weapons of mass destruction and rogue nations are barred from receiving our high-tech systems."

Chief among "such places is the People's Republic of China," Rohrabacher continued, issuing a warning against firms seeking to sidestep restrictions in order to do business with Beijing. "Eutelsat sells tens of millions of dollars' worth of satellite services to the U.S. government through DISA [Defense Information Systems Agency] contracts. Clearly, this is the beginning of a game of chicken between Eutelsat and the Obama Administration."

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