Translator:Henyee TranslationsEditor:Henyee Translations
The space race between China and the United States caused a lot of discussion on Chinese social media networks. The discussions were particularly fierce when it came to comparing the lunar space station to the Mars life support system.
Most people looked at this from an objective and rational standpoint.
For example, those that supported the United States said that the BFR rocket used the most advanced liquid oxygen methane engine in the world and that the BFR rocket could reach a maximum thrust of 138 trillion Newtons. All of these specs trumped Skyglow.
Not to mention that Mars was tens of millions of kilometers away. The transport difficulty wasnt even comparable; obviously, the United States achieved more.
Those that supported China looked at it from a "usefulness" perspective. After all, Mars was millions of kilometers away and had a launch window of once every two years. On the other hand, the Moon was "so close to home".
Objectively speaking, either side had valid reasons.
However, Lu Zhou didnt pay attention to these online discussions at all.
In his opinion, these discussions were all meaningless.
Whether it was the resource mining of the Moon or the exploration of Mars, these were all short-term money-losing projects. Whether it was the helium and titanium ores on the Moon or the rich methane reserves on Mars, they were both far away from Earth.
Just like how centuries ago, before the Age of Discovery, no one knew where the new colonists would go
However, the Moon was a lot closer.
But, looking at it from an economics perspective, the space program was bound to lose money. Sometimes one couldnt look at it purely from an economics perspective.
At least for China, the political, scientific, and cultural benefits gained from their space programs couldnt be measured by money.
Take the Moon Palace project as an example. As the first country in the world to deploy a space station in lunar orbit, other countries that wanted to participate in lunar-related scientific research projects would be forced to sign agreements with China.
Or take Germany for example. As the first country that had reached an agreement with China on controllable fusion technology, they naturally had already begun negotiations on using Chinas Moon Palace space station.
According to the negotiation results, after the first phase of the Moon Palace was complete, China would reserve a scientific research spot for the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research. China allowed Germany to send one scientific researcher to the Moon Palace.
In exchange, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research would cooperate with Chinese research institutes on projects related to lunar resources.
Britain, France, the European Union, Russia, Japan, and other countries had also begun negotiations with China on the Moon Palace.
China was happy to cooperate with these countries. They even reserved a spot on Moon Palace for an American astronaut.
The competitive relationship between countries was always relative, never absolute.
Even though China had a clear position in the world, international relations were often far more nuanced.
Even during the tensest moments of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union still collaborated on mutually beneficial aerospace and controllable fusion projects.
So far, the tension between China and the United States was far from the Cold War. China had maintained a peaceful position and never taken the initiative to provoke other countries. Of course, if the United States wanted to cooperate, there was certainly no reason for China to refuse.
3However, this was all based on the premise that the United States was willing to share its Mars colony resources or other things of equal value
Lu Zhou didnt know how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs negotiations were going, but he didnt care.
That was none of his business.
These trivial matters had little to do with the Lunar Orbit Committee.
He had more urgent matters to worry about
Jin Ling City.
Aerospace Science and Technology Institute.
A conference on the lunar orbit project was being held.
All of the big names in the aerospace industry were at this conference.
People such as Academician Yuan Huanmin, Systems Director Zhang, and other big names were all gathered here.
After a short opening statement, the conference officially began. Lu Zhou walked on stage and looked at everyone. He then said concisely, "I believe you have all heard that the United States completed its first phase of the Ares program.
"According to NASAs detailed disclosure, the BFR rocket did not use the traditional Hohmann transfer orbit. Instead, it used a direct transfer orbit to enter Mars gravitational system."
The moment he finished speaking, loud whispers were heard in the conference room.
Even though a lot of people already knew about the direct transfer orbit, they were still shocked.
Up until now, spacecraft that traveled to Mars had all used the Hohmann transfer orbit as this was the most fuel-efficient route.
However, this orbit could only be used once every two days, and it took 180 days of flying to reach Mars.
1When it came to space probes, the 180 days of flight was acceptable. But when it came to sending passengers to Mars, 6 months seemed like a long time.
Therefore, as the main transport vehicle of the Ares program, the BFR rocket flew a faster, shorter flight path. Compared to the Hohmann transfer orbit, the BFR rocket only needed 30 to 120 days to complete the journey to Mars. It also had a much longer launch window period, and there was no need to wait two years for the next launch.
The price was obviously fuel.
Even though on the surface the BFR rocket seemed to increase the cost of flying to Mars, in fact, shortening the flight time meant that it could reduce the resource load. This meant less fresh water, oxygen, and food. Therefore, flying a less fuel-efficient route could actually reduce costs
Even though not using the Hohmann transfer orbit was a crazy plan to everyone in the aerospace industry, it was obvious how advanced Space-X was!
Lu Zhou looked around the conference room and didnt say anything, he quietly waited for the discussion to die down.
A few minutes passed by before a professor sitting in the conference room raised his hand and spoke.
"I have something to say."
Lu Zhou nodded toward the professor and spoke.
"Please go ahead."
The middle-aged professor adjusted his glasses and slowly stood up.
"I think the success of the BFR rocket proves to us that chemical rockets have not reached a bottleneck.
"Maybe we should look at our development plan again. Im not denying the importance of ion thruster propulsion systems, but I think it is too early to give up on traditional chemical rockets."
Lu Zhou looked at the professor for a while. He then suddenly asked, "If I gave you 50 years and a billion USD of funding per year, are you certain you can reach the same level of thrust as the BFR?"
The professor didnt expect Lu Zhou to ask this question. He hesitated for a bit and looked uncertain.
After a while, he shook his head and answered honestly.
"It would be difficult."
The BFR rocket was at the pinnacle of liquid oxygen methane engines. There was no match for this beast of a rocket.
It was impossible for China to pass America in this aspect.
The middle-aged professor didnt even dare to brag.
Lu Zhou didnt say anything. He signaled the professor to sit down.
"Thats right, like you said, its difficult.
"Maybe there is still room for improvement in the chemical propulsion systems. If we improve our engines, we can fly for longer and further. But beating our opponents through chemical rockets is impossible.
"Therefore, we should focus on ion thruster propulsion systems. That is our only advantage. We should maintain it."
After a pause, Lu Zhou looked around the conference room and spoke.
"Even though the BFR rocket was a huge success, we shouldnt belittle ourselves.
"We have lower thrust numbers than them, but we have our own advantages! Chemical rockets will never have the same amount of impulse as our ion thruster rockets.
"I have announced a while ago that Star Sky Technology is developing a more flexible and more suitable spacecraft, for low-Earth orbit flights. The research has come to an end, and its time to reveal some secrets."
Lu Zhou looked at the big projector behind him and pressed the laser pointer in his hand.
Soon after, a three-dimensional concept image of Starlight was presented to everyone.
When Academician Yuan looked at the picture, he couldnt help but stand up.
Academician Yuan wasnt the only one who was surprised by what he was seeing.
Everyone looked at the uniquely shaped aerospaceplane, and voices of exclaim spread throughout the conference room.
Lu Zhou looked at Academician Yuan and smiled as he spoke.
"Its called Starlight! Its our new generation of aerospaceplanes."
Sun Yuanpei was sitting next to Academician Yuan. He stared at the image with his eyes wide open. He couldnt help but question the design.
"Is this design feasible?"
Four engines on the four twin-shaft fixed wings, with one main engine at the tail
This looks ridiculous!
"We have already proven it is technically feasible. As for practically feasible" Lu Zhou paused for a second and said, "Well find out soon!"