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China lands rover on Mars (bbc.com)
581 points by rococode 6 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 314 comments



All: if you can't post anything but cheap nationalistic comments, or other obvious reactions, please refrain from posting. The goal here is to have interesting conversation, which is the opposite of reflexive generic stuff [1, 2].

If you're not sure whether you're facilitating interesting conversation, here's the key: what's interesting are the diffs [3]: the specific, interesting details that haven't been repeated before or elsewhere. Ask yourself whether your comment could appear in any thread on some generally related theme (e.g. space, China). If yes, it's probably not interesting in the sense we're shooting for here. The goal is to consider things we haven't before.

Please note: this isn't about being 'positive' vs. 'negative' - it's about not being repetitive/predictable. That's different.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

[1] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&sor...

[2] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&sor...

[3] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&so...


It seems pretty silly to get all up in arms about copying other peoples' stuff. That's how humanity has innovated throughout the ages: Copy what works and innovate on top of it.

None of our inventions arise from a vacuum. Cars are still as wide as Roman chariots for good reason. Power transfer uses the same base principles as were in play during the dawn of steam engines and before. Energy conversion has been an iterative process for centuries, with the odd leap and bound.

Industrial espionage exists because it works, and everyone does it because it's a cheap way to come up to speed with the leading edge of human knowledge rather than unnecessarily duplicating effort.

Crying "No fair! You stole it!" sounds more like a petulant child than anything else.


> Crying "No fair! You stole it!" sounds more like a petulant child than anything else.

It's also exactly what made nasa in the first place, with America stealing much of rocket science from the Germans in the wake of WW2.


I was just telling my wife about this yesterday and how Wernher von Braun basically saved the US rocket program; or, at least, it was having major difficulties before, and major successes after he joined up.

And, in addition, the Germans in the 1930s got a lot of good information from Robert H. Goddard, the inventor who built the first liquid-fueled rocket; Werner von Braun said, about him, "His rockets ... may have been rather crude by present-day standards, but they blazed the trail and incorporated many features used in our most modern rockets and space vehicles." There was a large exchange of information in most areas of physics between very illustrious German and American physicists.

I think that having more people doing more science enriches everyone. Without American and German scientists working sharing information, it would have taken a lot longer to have the space technology that we currently do.

That is true even when two countries have political tension, as Germany and America had in the 1930s. China may have political rivalry with America, but science should take a lead in exchanging ideas, learning from each other, and developing new ideas that will enrich all of humanity.


Not only that, but the project director of the friggin Saturn V - Arthur Rudolph - was forced to rescind his US citizenship or face charges for war crimes because he had managed a factory during the war - Mittelwerk - that killed more forced labourers by building the V-2 than died in the V-2 bombings (20,000 vs 9,000 V-2 casualties).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Rudolph

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mittelwerk

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mittelbau-Dora_concentration_c...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-2_rocket


If anyone wants to get into some of the obscure history niches, see the book Ignition!: An informal history of liquid rocket propellants (ISBN13: 9780813507255):

* https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/677285.Ignition_

It's not about rockets in general, but about rocket fuel specifically. It's the "#1 Best Seller in Petroleum (Engineering)" category:

* https://www.amazon.com/Ignition-Informal-History-Liquid-Prop...


> And, in addition, the Germans in the 1930s got a lot of good information from Robert H. Goddard

Is that true? I have read that, unlike the German rocket club, Goddard was very secretive — more like closed-source.

Thanks to the open German rocket club, they solved the engineering difficulty of a high speed pump to deliver fuel to the engines. Goddard appears to have stalled there.

So the U.S. gets the German scientists, some hardware. They seem to have wanted to have both a peaceful, scientific track for rocket research and a military one.

Werner got the military track with the Army. Developing, among other things, the Redstone.

The peaceful, scientific track became NASA when Sputnik circled the Earth. Failing to get their own JPL rockets off the ground, the U.S. turns to the Army .... hey, Werner, anything you can do with your Redstone to help us out here?

That's my take anyhow. Someone with deeper historical knowledge can correct my wild generalizations.


"Wernher von Braun, a German physicist and a friend of Goddard [also a PhD physicist; emph. mine], instituted the German Rocket Society in 1927, following Goddard’s March 1926 launch." [0]

Goddard's early launches were made possible by a Smithsonian grant of $5000 by Charles Greeley Abbot from the Hodgkins fund. After being ridiculed in the NYT in 1920 he got more cautious about PR. After a Lindbergh visit, the Guggenheims helped him find another $100,000.

Germany didn't need 'help' from Goddard; they had Oberth, who did a PhD thesis on rocketry in 1922, and published The Rocket into Planetary Space in 1923. "Space historians typically name three pioneers as the founding fathers of astronautics: Tsiolkovsky [a Russian teachr when Goddard was still a teen], the American Robert Goddard, and the German (although Romanian-born) Hermann Oberth." [1]

[0] https://www.famousscientists.org/robert-goddard/ [1] https://www.airspacemag.com/space/russias-long-love-affair-w...


> I think that having more people doing more science enriches everyone. Without American and German scientists working sharing information, it would have taken a lot longer to have the space technology that we currently do.

> That is true even when two countries have political tension, as Germany and America had in the 1930s. China may have political rivalry with America, but science should take a lead in exchanging ideas, learning from each other, and developing new ideas that will enrich all of humanity.

You're only saying this because America stopped Germany. You might as well be telling the French why sharing their science with 1930's Germany is a net good. What about a hypothetical where that French 30's science was the defining factor in Germany being able to conquer them?


> China may have political rivalry with America, but science should take a lead in exchanging ideas, learning from each other, and developing new ideas that will enrich all of humanity.

What % of the scientific community would it take to convince their government to be open about sharing their knowledgebase? seems unrealistic with their current 'climate'.


The Americans got the scientists, the Russians got the technicians. They served as catalysts for both space programs, but there was also a lot of talent from else where (America is famous for deporting a Chinese rocket scientist in the 50s or 60s, giving a good start to their program).


Is it really stealing when the individuals who did the work for America voluntarily left Germany due to its foray into authoritarianism? Seems more like a windfall for a country with better human rights than a theft, to me.


Operation Paperclip was a secret US intelligence program in which more than 1,600 Nazi scientists, engineers, and technicians were taken from Nazi Germany to the United States for government employment after the end of World War II in Europe, primarily between 1945 and 1959.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Paperclip


"were taken" suggests they had no say in the matter, which is not true at least in the case of many.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wernher_von_Braun#Surrender_to...


I think the phrase has several interpretations. The most basic is conveyance without judgement of human motives.

To the extent that high value workers knew that they were treasure to be looted they might have decided that the US was a least worse option.


> To the extent that high value workers knew that they were treasure to be looted they might have decided that the US was a least worse option.

Yes, that lines up with von Braun's account of his motivations.

> We knew that we had created a new means of warfare, and the question as to what nation, to what victorious nation we were willing to entrust this brainchild of ours was a moral decision more than anything else. We wanted to see the world spared another conflict such as Germany had just been through, and we felt that only by surrendering such a weapon to people who are guided not by the laws of materialism but by Christianity and humanity could such an assurance to the world be best secured.

I'm not particularly convinced by this man's praise of America and talk of Christianity, I think he was brown-nosing just a little bit... but it does seem clear he preferred America to the Soviets.


We wanted to see the world spared another conflict such as Germany had just been through

He really write that? That’s some chutzpah.

Also interesting is that the V-2 missile was called a “ vengeance weapon” [0] but Allied bombing of Germany hadn’t started when the V-2 started. [1]

On 22 December 1942, Adolf Hitler ordered the production of the A-4 as a "vengeance weapon", and the Peenemünde group developed it to target London.

0. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wernher_von_Braun

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_air_operations_during_...


Allied bombings of Germany began in 1939, the information is even present in the Wikipedia link you provided. V-2 launches against Allies started in September 1944, well after commencement of large scale strategic bombing of German cities, and the name was given to it after successful test launches, also in 1944.


That's not quite how it went down - the really top guys were running the show in Nazi Germany until the very end, and only came to the US after Germany lost the war.

See siblings comments about Mittelwerk, eg. Also Chabon's (fictional) novel Moonglow covers some of this history well.


The question is, were they allowed to leave Germany when the regime was still in place?


I think a lot of German scientists were pretty happy to be "stolen" by a democracy and given the means to leave 1930's Germany.

Not at all the same as what's going on right now [0]

[0] https://www.justice.gov/usao-az/pr/former-raytheon-engineer-...


von Braun and his team specifically sought out Americans to surrender to. Characterizing a surrender as "theft" (as though people are property?!) is truly bizarre.


Germans wouldn't have started the war without loans from the US or help from companies like IBM. So it's not so much as stealing, but rather trying to claw back some of the "investment" when the war machinery started to collapse.


Yeah, this is complete nonsense. The science behind rockets were already being worked on long before WW2 or even the first expansion of territory of the Third Reich beyond the borders set at the closing of WW1.

It's like when people gave credit to Hitler for infrastructure projects such as the Autobahns which were already in progress before he took office.


I didn't say that only Germans had this technology. They have been doing a heavy research though and they didn't have to worry about human rights abuse and so on. It was valuable enough so that it was worth for the US to launch Operation Paperclip.


Sure but I'm not sure how their freedom from worrying about human rights abuse has anything at all to do with their rocket research. They never had any human test pilots or manned rocket vehicle tests (that are public record anyway). Perhaps, you confusing that with their medical research.


Is there any evidence that there's copying going on? I tried searching online, but couldn't find any. A few months ago I saw people claiming that the leading choice in the contest to name the rover was "Perseverance"[1], which wasn't actually true (see the comment about how 弘毅 is translated). There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there these days.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/konwyz/starship_sta...


The rover has wheels, right? That's clearly copying previous efforts.


> Copy what works and innovate on top of it

I think the main gripe with China's process is that they don't do the latter. They produce replica's then herald them as original works of the mightiest country on the planet. Everyone everywhere steals, but China does it with a little more 'F-U' than most countries, and tend to use what they steal to oppress.

I spent a few years working for a defense contractor out of college, and Chinese IPs were probing every internet facing server we had 24/7.

https://www.wearethemighty.com/mighty-tactical/chinese-knock...

https://futurism.com/the-byte/china-is-working-on-what-looks...

> Industrial Espionage.... > Crying "No fair! You stole it!" sounds more like a petulant child than anything else.

Pointing it out as a matter of economic and national security is far from a childish thing to do. If you're government is willing to subjugate people into slave labor at a massive scale while at the same time stealing the IP born from fairer societies, that creates an uneven competitive landscape, which ultimately works against the fairer societies. Think of it this way: Safety nets cost money, but the return you get is smarter people taking bigger risks and creating new useful things. If you get all the benefits of that (IP) and don't have to pay, you will win, and create a crappier world in the process. I'd liken it to brain drain. You spend all this money educating people only to have the return on that investment go elsewhere.

I know the immediate response to this is going to be "But America did such and such...". I don't care what America did. When someone is on trial for stealing a car, talking about how someone else stole a bike isn't a defense.


America literally did exactly what China is doing now, when it was the upstart and Britain was the industrial powerhouse of the world. Americans stole British IP and built an industrial economy with that technology. All the while implementing perhaps the largest and cruelest human trafficking operation ever conceived.

How are all the other countries, who follow US IP laws and trade regulations, pulling themselves out of poverty? Are they doing it as fast as China is?

It is always in the interest of a more developed country to set IP terms, because they own the patents and the manufacturing processes, and they can advantage themselves at the expense of everyone else. Look at how Mexico fared in NAFTA, or what the terms of the TPP were. All of this is completely beside the point of who has a more "fair" or more "just" regime. China did what they needed to do to develop their economy: steal American IP and ignore American trade laws and patents.


First, you can't compare the wealth an advantage IP represents now to what it was before the 1960s. It's a ridiculous comparison when you look at the amount of economic activity that depended on it.

Second, the list of underdeveloped countries that care about US IP laws is non-existent. The US doesn't care. It only matters when the country is wealthy and advanced enough to do something with the IP that it matters.

Third, I don't see how it being in the US's interest to protect their IP makes protecting the IP wrong.

Forth, you've rebutted none of my actual points, and ignored my last sentence.


> I know the immediate response to this is going to be "But America did such and such...". I don't care what America did. When someone is on trial for stealing a car, talking about how someone else stole a bike isn't a defense.

Well, this actually reminded me the case of Apple issued Microsoft for the infringement in 1988 [1], and Apple did not win because the Mac UI was actually 'referenced' from Xerox as well.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Computer,_Inc._v._Micros....


That wasn't a case of 'they stole something too', though. That was a case of 'this thing they're saying I stole from them, we both stole from someone else'. A lil bit different.


This response it exactly correct. Thanks for taking the time to spell this out.


The absurdity of the "it's stealing" position is obvious when you imagine what the world would look like if everybody suddenly decided each country is doing only their own research and is not allowed to use any external idea. It would be utterly ridiculous. Copying-and-improving is the default, it's what makes us move forward as humanity. Everything else is just politics and national pride.


"They're only copying" was also an accusation famously leveled by Britain against the US (see Lowell[1] and The Pirates of Penzance[2]) and by the US against Japan around the turn of the 20th century. Copying complex technologies is hard and countries that are able to succeed at it usually go on to become innovative.

[1]https://www.history.com/news/industrial-revolution-spies-eur...

[2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pirates_of_Penzance#Backgr...


The US would then turn around and copy Japanese submarines in 1940s and 50s after the war (admittedly a smaller amount than what they copied from German designs.)


Not directly relevant to this case, since I don't know anything about these Mars rovers than the superficial stuff from news outlets, but I think that what hurts isn't the copying, but boasting about it, presenting it as your own, not acknowledging the source, etc.

A trivial example: a nephew of mine proudly showed his drawings. They were really fantastic for his age, and everyone told him so. Turns out, he drew them by putting paper on a computer monitor (this was back when CRTs were still the fashion) and tracing. That did change the perception of merit a bit. The difference in the difficulty underlies the difference in appreciation.

To make my stance entirely clear: this is not meant to condone or condemn either side.


Hockney derived a new theory of art and optics: around 1430, centuries before anyone suspected it, artists began secretly using cameralike devices, including the lens, the concave mirror and the camera obscura, to help them make realistic-looking paintings. ... Hockney suggests, knew the magic of photographic projection.

https://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/04/arts/paintings-too-perfec...

T. S. Eliot’s dictum: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn.”

https://www.uvu.edu/arts/applause/posts/stealing.html


> It seems pretty silly to get all up in arms about copying other peoples' stuff.

Wasn't it an American who said "good artists copy, great artists steal"?


And the American who said it stole that phrase from a Spaniard (Steve Jobs popularized it but he was quoting Pablo Picasso).


In a sense, it's good competition makes for a good game and achieving greater goals.

e.g. Soviet Union vs United States.

I like it, I welcome it - it begs to open the purse and spend and brings the most creative solutions to the table.

Like computers, boy what a fad!


The problem is IP theft hurts novel research, since illegal knock-off makers don't have to recoup their R&D investments.


Precisely. Instead of crying the same people should question their Government on why the tech wasn't protected enough if it was not supposed to be copied.


The fact your comment is upvoted says all you need to know about the parcipatants in this thread.

China merely isn't just engaged in industrial espionage because it works to not duplicate effort. They steal to undermine the effort of the people that made it possible to begin with. In many cases ruining the companies that made the original innovation. This isnt crying and whinging for no reason it's unethical and wrong. This isnt a two way street where chinese innovations are helping our world. Almost everything the Chinese steal all while burning through natural resources and at alarming pace and injecting the most harmful substances into the environment. And be honest they are simply doing this to saberrattle the US and create propoganda to legitmaze an oppressive state. So, yes it's not only unfair, it's evil. And I'm not happy for China.


What I find very exciting and something that is totally lacking from any news articles and discussions I have seen outside space-geek circles is that China is actually very much open to cooperate with other agencies. The China Russia plan of a base on the moon is open to partners whom would like to join: International Lunar Research Station.

https://spacenews.com/china-russia-open-moon-base-project-to...


I would be impressed if they take the initiative and do it.


Building a base on the moon? It's part of the program they have already set in motion so I don't see them not doing so. Exciting times.


To the (flagged) comments about China stealing research: I’ll abstract from lack of evidence.

Just stealing isn’t enough. Russia, I believe, ended up admitting stealing research on the Space Shuttle, and despite that their own project never really materialised. Even. You steal, that lets you catch up, not overtake.

So even if China is helping themselves (again, I don’t know), they still have to innovate and improve. Good on them if they do. And then, their own technology is also ripe for the taking if that’s how the game works.

It’s all progress one way or the other.


The stone cold fact is that China has n-times engineers than USA, mostly working for the same American companies who outsourced their RnD, and engineering decades ago, and working on mostly the same things.

It strikes me every time hearing such argument from people completely oblivious to the above fact.


It's not just a numbers game (though as Stalin said - quantity does have a quality all of it's own).

Life is rarely that simple - there are also sociological/societal causes plus the required surrounding infrastructure.

China has made dramatic leaps in technological capability but they still can't make a good competitive jet engine and they've been pouring resources into that for literally decades.

Even if you have the plans (and realistically they probably do) just the metallurgy alone is an absolute nightmare.

There are a handful of countries that can do it reasonably well and only a couple of companies that can do it approaching the state of the art.

General Electric and Rolls Royce (with P&W following behind) - there are a few other smaller companies and CFM International which is GE and one of the smaller companies, Safran (used to be Snecma).

That is just one area - in the long term who knows but in the mid-term China will do well to achieve equivalency in a number of areas (and in fairness they know this - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Made_in_China_2025)


I’d be more inclined to quote and think in terms of Brooks than Stalin since the latter was speaking to tanks iirc, and the former to something more akin to scientists: “adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.”

The US probably also suffers from a surfeit of “scientists” as the Thiel theory would have it, just not as bad of a problem as China.

https://conversationswithtyler.com/episodes/peter-thiel/


Indeed that is probably a better analogy.

You also have to consider culture as well, some cultures tend towards innovation more than others - which I guess fundamentally is how 'free' people are to try things and whether it's top down control or not.

Innovation has many fathers.


And of course USA had considerable influx of German manpower and know-how some of it very directly went into their space program.


Buran made an orbital flight. I think the reason of the project's failure was lack of funding, not technology in that case.


Also I think the Soviets realized the shuttle was a badly designed and expensive frankenvehicle that did not fit any mission profile particularly well.


Perhaps. The Energia booster was quite good. The real reason they stopped flying it is that the Soviet Union went broke, which is also why there is no Soviet Union anymore.


I think the political narrative of the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a bit more complex than that. The root cause was a political dissatisfaction in the "member" states and as Kremlin under Gorbachev tried to create a more financially dynamic political system, they accidentally also gave enough leash to the vassal states to create an unstoppable tidal wave of reforms. They could have rolled the tanks in as during earlier decades (e.g invasion of Checkoslovakia during the Prague spring incident -68) but didn't - for which I think the world is ever grateful for Mr. Gorbachev.

So it was not only about money. Although the financial problems were certainly one of the biggest root causes.

Then soviet system had faced several humiliating defeats a few years earlier, robbing it's system of it's facade of invincibility - the invasion of Afganistan and Chernobyl disaster among them.


I haven't lived there so I appreciate the perspective. There certainly is no single cause. What I see as the proximal cause, or the straw that broke the camel's back was that starting in the seventies, the USSR had become a petrostate. The USSR wasn't producing enough food for the population, but this wasn't a problem through the seventies and early eighties due to the high oil prices. The USSR simply sold oil to pay for food imports.

In the mid eighties, the oil price crashed, and in order to feed the USSR, they had to take out increasingly large hard currency loans, which eventually got so big, that the only way to make them happen was with western government backing. The (implicit or explicit) condition was that if they rolled tanks in Poland or East Germany, the money, and hence the grain, would be cut off. Gorbachev said in an interview that in 1988 or 1989, the USSR was months away from mass starvation had the imports ceased.

Some give Reagan credit for convincing the Saudis to pump more oil and set this chain of events in motion, but I have no idea if that's true or not. Of course I'm disregarding why exactly it was that the USSR couldn't produce enough food with the massive amount of arable land available to it, or why it exactly there were these pro-democracy movements popping up in Poland and East Germany and other places in the Warsaw Pact.


It did fly, my point is, as a project it didn’t go anywhere. It’s not like it was some major leap in the Russian space programme.


In its own right I find it a fairly major technical achievement that the first and only orbital flight of buran was unmanned, landing on a runway with no human at the controls. That's one thing the US never did with the shuttle.


That's because Russians can copy things even when US even doesn't make them in the first place ;)


China Daily has a nice animation of the landing process.[1] So far, though, no live video.

[1] http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202105/15/WS609f18aaa31024...


Oh, interesting, I thought it would use inflatable balloons for the touchdown.


For me what has always been amazingly fascinating about all of these missions (even more so for the Voyager missions) is to be able to work with so much latency!

In today's world, where we are used to working with millisecond latencies across thousands of kilometers, just to be able to do something with latency of minutes to tens of hours, boggles my mind!

Amazing accomplishment of humankind!


When the Voyager missions were launched most of the world didn't have international calling. So making a call from lets say Somalia to the US, involved finding a post office with the only international line in town and "booking" a call. Which meant you had to walk over and write down your name (and if you were lucky enough to have a local landline your 4 digit phone number) in a ledger and then walk back home to sit by the phone, for two days to a week, before the operator would call up to tell you the line was available. If the exchange wasn't sophisticated enough to forward the call, you then had to drop everything you were doing and walk back to the post office to use the line. Now think about how anything worked with that level of latency :)


Spanish colonies heard months after the event that the Spanish king(s) had abdicated. There were peoples fighting in the name of kings that didn't exist anymore...


Well, if there is a state partition in an always available application like humans then consistency cannot be guaranteed.

a Japanese holdout who did not surrender at the war's end in August 1945. After the war ended Onoda spent 29 years hiding out in the Philippines until his former commander travelled from Japan to formally relieve him from duty by order of Emperor Shōwa in 1974.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroo_Onoda

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAP_theorem


When the voyager was launched, telegram was the dominant mode of long distance communication in my country.


Which country is that?


Philippines


The development cycles in space exploration are heroic. My own code takes literally one minute to run and the wait is a serious drag on my productivity.


On the code side of these rover and landers, you also have to deal with radiation/vacuum-hardened chips.

From the little I understand, these chips behave a quite a bit different than the types of stuff we work with. For one, you have to assume that your programs will be corrupted via cosmic rays causing bit-flips. Chips are slower and more rigorous as a result.

This being HN, there may be a person on here that can speak more to program design with space rated hardware. I'd love to learn a bit more!


Well, it really depends on the nature of the radiation hardening.

Modern computing is all complementary mosfet based. You have a transistor to pull the signal up quickly, and a transistor to pull the signal down quickly.

The thing with CMOS is that, if both transistors turn on at the same time, it creates a short circuit. Depending on details of how the silicon was actually made, a short like that could either permanently cause damage, or it could just cause the circuit to transiently crap out until it reboots.

Exotic radioactive particles have a tendency to turn mosfets on when they smash into them. This can cause those sorts of short circuits. Some computers blow up, while others just stop working until power cycled.

In space, you obviously don't want to use the computers that blow up when that happens. If you use the computers that just transiently fail, then you generally need to have redundant computers able to keep the rest of the system running while they reboot the computer that failed. That does add a lot of software complexity, but at least the computers are relatively normal.

Transistors are less likely to be toggled by radiation the larger and more capacitive (slow to toggle) they are, so if you make a computer with big slow transistors, it will be unlikely to crap out even if a bunch of radiation is hitting it. That's handy because the software can actually be really simple. You just run your program and trust that it will be reliable enough to get it's job done.

Not all errant transistor flips cause a short circuit, they may just cause a miscalculation. Most of the calculations a computer does don't actually matter, and no one ever notices. It does mean the computer is slightly irrational, though, and that's bad for a computer. There's chips that have hardware support for detecting miscalculations and memory corruption. There's nothing particularly special about writing software for them. Typically you just need to implement an interrupt handler for when the hardware detects corruption, and you need to write a task that periodically reads every physical memory address so that the memory controller can proactively fix any bit flips in the memory.


Thank you for the comment!


I had no idea they had a rover on the way, very cool! What is the objective and the interest in the Utopia site?


It has a ground penetrating radar to see stuff 100 m below the ground, something that no other Mars rover has done before. I think that's pretty cool!


> ...ground penetrating radar to see stuff 100 m below the ground...

Is this type of survey also possible from the orbiter? Though it would not be as hi-def as from the land level, but more extensive coverage.


I read that ground penetrating radar only really works well if it is really close to the ground. It also only gets a thin slice of the ground so you need a rover that can move in order to image a volume.


It had some coverage here, it was one of the three probes headed for Mars this year, other two being the US and UAE probes.

The rover itself is not as larges as the Perseverance or Curiosity, but their orbiter seems a quite heavy probe. Hope we will get some detailed high-resolution images of the surface from the orbiter, so that we can have even better surface maps of Mars.

Also the CNSA programs don't get as much coverage in the West. Their Chang'e 5 lunar sample return probe was quite a good achievement, with they being able to do an autonomous docking in lunar orbit.

A video of the sample transfer in lunar orbit: https://youtu.be/iABFC9V3cPc


Wait the UAE is sending a probe to mars? I haven't heard anything about this. Is it going to be a rover, or just a satellite?


It is an orbiter, and is already in orbit around Mars.


I am usually up to date on these sorts of things and this is the first I have heard of it.

That said, absolutely amazing to see happen! Here is hoping that it lasts long past the design date like the others tend to do.


Now that more and more countries are getting into space exploration, I wonder how long it will be before commercial companies start developing and selling space probe platforms (just like launch platforms now).


This is already common in the satellite world. Companies design & build satellite platforms (usually called "buses" for sats) that satellite developers build on top of. Usually provides the core physical structure, plus attachments for payloads or sensors; some more advanced ones also include stuff like avionics, power distribution etc. Wikipedia has some interesting examples [0].

Photon mentioned in a sibling comment builds on that idea by providing a bus with engines to make it into a simple spacecraft. I don't know of any off-the-shelf rover platforms yet but can absolutely see the same thing happening when there's enough demand / cost of access to places worth roving around is cheaper.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_bus


Rocketlab is heading down that track already with their Photon satellite platform: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAUj-TQpn-A


There's a number of private moon landers under development.


SPAAS - Space Platforms As A Service


Where can I invest?


I'm a Chinese guy and I don't like this at all. Here's some Chinese perspective:

1. The CNSA is severely underfunded in recent years, to the extent that a considerable amount of space tech graduates went directly into other more "lucrative" fields such as the IT industry.

2. This landing operation was not announced beforehand. This is a bit unusual, when compared to the past operations, e. g. the first manned space flight, where the national news network kept broadcasting the whole event. The CNSA seemed a little unconfident about it.

3. This year is the 100th anniversary for the CCP.

4. Given 1, 2 and 3, and how things work in the PRC, this Mars landing thing is more likely a "present" for the CCP anniversary, intended to strive for more funding. If the operation failed, they'd probably postpone the whole announcement till a more "proper" time, since nobody even know they tried to land the rover.

So, the current atmosphere in the CNSA may be a little tense. A failure may make them lose their already-tiny funding, and they did this (at this timing) to please the CCP in order to get more support. I respect all those engineers and scientists who made the marvel achievement, but this is not a pretty scene. And as a Chinese, I don't like it at all.


> If the operation failed, they'd probably postpone the whole announcement till a more "proper" time, since nobody even know they tried to land the rover.

What? Here’s CNSA’s official Weibo account announcing yesterday that the rover will land in Utopia Planitia between May 15 and May 19, depending on local landing conditions.[1] A brief Google News search turned up reports from before the landing, e.g. [2] quoting a speech delivered on the 13th by a Chinese Academy of Sciences professor at Beijing Institute of Technology mentioning that the rover will land on the 15th.

[1] https://m.weibo.cn/7480894382/4636823021945182

[2] https://ezone.ulifestyle.com.hk/article/2957353/中國祝融號火星車將於本周...

Edit: And here’s People’s Daily posting the same CNSA announcement yesterday: https://m.weibo.cn/2803301701/4636812058297556 A search of “天问” there turns up regular updates too, pretty conclusively debunking the “nobody even know” claim.

Given that your first piece of evidence isn’t sourced (yet) and I can’t find anything on it (maybe the space tech graduates flocking to IT part is true, but few sectors pay better to begin with, so that’s not a good indication of underfunding; it’s not like NASA pays anywhere close to FAANG), your second piece of evidence is easy to check and doesn’t stand, and your third piece of evidence is circumferential and akin to Kremlinology, it’s hard to take your conclusions seriously.


Sorry but I don't think you do respect "the engineers and scientists who made the marvel achievement" if the only thing that you are able to get out of this is as a publicity stunt to please the CCP.

It is not an understatement for me to say that I abhor the US empire as a whole and their destructive effects on the sovereignty of the larger world. However, when I'm reading about a NASA project, I don't have the knee jerk reaction of "it's American! BAD!!!" That's because while there is some political gain to be had from the prestige of a space agency, there is very little direct economic or military advantage and the main purpose is scientific enrichment which has been beneficial for humanity as a whole, not just the US. NASA astronauts, scientists, and engineers may have their own nationalistic biases but I don't doubt that their primary motivation is a love for space sciences and they tend to have a more cosmopolitian view of humanity's future anyway. The same was true of the Russians and the Chinese who worked in this sector.

Now, there could be case to be made that the CCP could decide to hoard the scientific data for themselves and refuse to share it to the wider public but until I see this in action, I will remain cautiously optimistic. Roscosmos (formerly CCCP) were able to collaborate with NASA despite their host nations being mortal enemies on the wider world stage so I don't see why the CCP would risk hampering their progress by becoming isolationist when it comes to space research

Furthermore, this is a monumental achievement considering this is the first successful non US landing on Mars and was achieved on their first try! the countries are able to send probes there, the more data we can gather and that's always a net good.

Now if only the Russians could manage to dissolve the curse they seem to have when it comes to Mars rover missions, then we could have a seriously potent race.


This country is a pure, violent dictatorship that imprisons more journalists and political opponents than anywhere else on earth, that is effecting ethnical k cleansing within its borders and that is aggressively looking to expend itself (Taiwan, after just being done with suppressing the independent government of Hong Kong).

I'm sorry if people think about a bit more than something that will have tiny to no effect on their life quality in their lifetime. Especially for someone who is Chinese.


Wanna know which "pure, violent dictatorship" imprisons more people than anywhere else on Earth...?


I'm not an American, saying something else is bad doesn't excuse the first one


> 1. The CNSA is severely underfunded in recent years, to the extent that a considerable amount of space tech graduates went directly into other more "lucrative" fields such as the IT industry.

To be fair, NASA has the same problem. Rocket science just doesn’t pay as well as a FAANG programming job, even if you are trained up for the former. At lot of fields that traditionally attracted smart people are suffering similar issues.


On the other hand, NASA ends up with people who really care about space, whereas FAANG have a lot of employees whose hearts are not in the mission. Money can do wonders for motivation, of course, but it has its limits.


Yes, but don’t think our industry’s success hasn’t had some negative effects on the others.


Absolutely. The enthusiasm effect compensates, but not completely.


> The CNSA is severely underfunded in recent years

Source?


I thought “I’m a Chinese guy” was his source


Chinese here. hmm, last year when tianwen-1 was launched they said they will land sometime in the first quarter of 2021. They didn't announce a specific date because this is the first time we sent a probe to mars and they need to gather detailed data of mars to ensure a good landing. For example, high definition scan of the landing area and weather patterns. There are many systems in production use for the first time. For example, deep space communication (we never sent a probe this far). Or mars geo-positioning system (How does the probe know where its located in space with relation to mar's surface, how does it know when and where to release the lander to ensure it lands on the target). I am sure they need to gather data and validate these systems. This usually is a full mission itself. So I don't think its surprising that once all the research and validation is done can they announce a date for landing.

As for secrecy. I believe it comes mostly from CNSA's lack of confidence. This is the first time they ever sent something this far and they are attempt to land all in one go. Its daunting to think all the systems that have to work right on the first try. If I were them, I would be unconfident as well. I think they are trying to keep the expectation in check, not wanting to hype the thing. Give them the breathing room if they fail.

Yes, CNSA has strong political pressure to not fail. That's due to: 1) public support for the country continue to spend money on sending fireworks to the sky and 2) public confidence in country's system. But it doesn't mean failures are not tolerated. For example, the long march 5 rocket failed during development, and resulted in 3 year delay in the program and pushed back all the launch missions, like tianwen-1, chang'e5. change5 was supposed to launch in 2018, and it sat in the hanger for 2 years. The chang'e team didn't even know what to work on. But the rocket team got support. Learn from failures, troubleshoot, improve processes. I am sure if tianwen-1 failed, the team will get support. They will learn, and try again. I think the political pressure is not all terrible in healthy dose. It ensures people are working carefully, thinking fully, creating processes and methods, to ensure stuff gets done. Without political pressure, you will see more "corruption" and "bureaucracy".

Also think about what the news will be if china space missions did fail.

tianwen has been in the works for a decade now, they didn't start this recently and time it to ccp's 100th anniversary. The launch in 2020 was because the mars launch window. ccp is saying many years now that they support the space endeavor and what china to progress in science and tech. Support for CNSA only got stronger in recent years.

As for money. Pay is a issue in China for scientists and researchers in general. Especially, in all of the state-owned sectors and public institutions, not just space. Your front line workers will leave when pressure and money are not in balance. Until no one is there working for you. So at some point leaders will realize its not sustainable. And given the political goal of improving science, research and tech in china, pay is going to be a central problem needs to be tackled.

Lastly, I feel like regardless of politics, we should be proud of this moment. 2200 years after 屈原 stared at the stars and wrote the poem 问天,we built a spacecraft landed on another planet, bring Chinese characters to it for the first time in history. 遂古之初,谁传道之?上下未形,何由考之?Does it not have certain romance to it?


>Now that Zhurong has got down successfully, scientists will try to get at least 90 Martian days of service out of it, studying the local geology.

90 days, doesn't that seem short?


If you design something so that it has a 99% chance of lasting 90 days, there's a pretty good chance it'll last 6 months or even a year. Especially since failures tend to follow a bathtub curve: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathtub_curve


Spirit and Opportunity both had 90-day official mission lengths as well and look how long they lasted. I think this is a simple case of underpromise and overdeliver.


All things considered, 90 days is pretty good for how harsh of an environment Mars can be.

Also, there are dozens of ways to make the mission last longer but no ways of accomplishing that without adding more weight.


This makes me think about the way we define “harsh”.

What’s actually so harsh about Mars?

Let’s imagine some alien civilization tries to send a probe to Earth, they’d be saying things like:

“Dude, that atmosphere is gonna burn our shit up before it even touches ground, if we’re not careful.”

“Holy shit, what are these huge animals with long noses and big ears? They’re gonna destroy our probe if they walk over it.”

“Let’s avoid landing in that area where those bipedals are still waging war.”

“The rain is acidic! WT bloody F?”

“Ugh, those black-and-white swimming things seem like assholes who like to play with their food, let’s steer clear of them.”


The harshest part for any machine on Mars is the lack of nearby humans to aid or repair it.


Extreme temperature change during night and day. You don't know the quality of the ground dust and its effect on your machines. It's extreme because of lots of unknowns.


One factor complicating landing is the thin atmosphere. Too thin to make parachutes useful but thin enough that you have to worry about the heat from high speeds.


Parachutes are useful on Mars, just not sufficient.


I would say Earth is harsher but we have plenty experience designing things to last here and crucially we don't have weight limitations


Most of the dust is extremely sharp, not having water break up the edges.


No it’s not - aeolian processes do a fine job of weathering it. It is very fine dust, and somewhat toxic, but it is not sharp like lunar regolith is. https://medium.com/@adammann930/the-problem-with-dust-on-the...


Today I learned! I thought it was effectively lunar regolith.


Well, yeah, their technology would be mostly adapted for their home planet, Earth could be very harsh.


It is harsh and famously hard to land successfully on. But if a country can operate rovers on the Moon and is able to get their rover down to the surface in without breaking it then I'd expect it to work.


Space missions like to set easier to accomplish goals. Anything after that is viewed as a bonus. US space program did the same with the recent Mars mission.


Opportunity also has a 90 sols designed life. Designed, designed.


So China has put a probe on the Moon, launched a space station, and landed a rover on Mars, just in the last few months? Asteroid sample return is the next logical step. Looks like the second Space Age is in full swing.


I've waited decades for this. Game on!


Does anyone have plans to land on Venus? Is that way more difficult or something?


The USSR did back in the day. It is much more harder, not to necessary land, but for your lander to survive more than a couple of hours.

It is hot like an oven, with 400F temperatures, and multiple ATM pressures. It is much a more challenging environment.


Russians landed 10 probes successfully and took pictures and did the science. Venera 13 lander survived for 127 minutes.

You can shield the probes from sulfuric acid and pressure, but it's hard to keep electronics cool for longer than few hours. Mean surface temperature is 464 °C. (867 °F). Doing science experiments is even harder.


You could use active cooling but the energy requirements would be immense, as you would need to make the heat sink even hotter than the 464+ C atmosphere.

You would basically have to use a crazy high temperature reactor like those envisioned for project Pluto, but setup to somehow produce useful work instead of propulsion, to get the necessary power needed to reach sane cold side temperatures on your heat pump.


NASA has been soliciting lander designs[1], as well as coming up with their own[2].

[1] https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/nasas-venus-rover-challenge...

[2] https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20190034042


See the Venera missions:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venera


Not that I know of, Venus is kinda crazy. 90 ATM pressure, -1 pH acid rain, about 700 K temperatures at night, it's pretty absurd. Unless you want to make a probe out of solid Tungsten, you're probably out of luck. And good luck getting that out of low earth orbit, that would be stupidly heavy.


They are going for a fully mechanical automaton probe apparently, no electronics, very interesting approach. https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/space-robots/jp...


Would it help to have a burrowing probe? What are the subterranean conditions like?


I believe an airship would have higher chances of survival. If the surface has been that hot for thousands/millions of years, why would the underground be different? Unless you go really deep (hundreds of KM?), which is impossible.


IIRC some designs have an airship with probe on a long cable. The airship stays in the relatively cool upper layers of the atmosphere and periodically lowers the probe to study the surface for a short while.

That way you can cool the probe down every time you reel it in instead of making it withstand the hellish temperatures for extended amounts of time.


What if you designed a probe like a medicine capsule, with an outer shell that's designed to melt, but a smaller rover inside that can survive the heat/acid/pressure?


Designing the rover that can survive the environment is the difficult part.


If the shell melts, then how does it help the rover


Apart from Venus which is quite interesting, indeed, but very challenging goal, I hope there will be better exploration of Mercury, since it's rich in iron and closest to the Sun. It is a perfect fit for systematic monitoring of Sun's activity. Moreover, such proximity would make the energy density a big advantage in terms of the mission lifetime.


BepiColombo is on the way! We will start getting data back in 2026.


There's a Mercury Flyby in October of this year!

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/bepicolombo/in-depth/


planetary.org/articles/every-picture-from-venus-surface-ever


Yes because the lander will melt quickly.


Weird that people get upset by this. I wonder how anyone complaining about "copying" feel about software patents.

Honestly, I didn't even know about this mission until now. Good for China. I like "monuments" that countries engage in. They're not new. This is what Apollo was too. Better this than an F-35.

If bananas have taught us anything, it's that monocultures are bad (reinforced by the various COVID vaccines I might add). If SpaceX and all the "me toos" have taught us anything is that space (engineering) is hard.

The longevity of the NASA rovers is almost legendary at this point. They too were originally designed for 90 day missions. It'll be interesting to see how long this Chinese rover lasts.

If it's much shorter, which is what I suspect, I hope the lesson people take is just what an accomplishment the NASA rovers are rather than just cheap nationalistic shots at the Chinese space agency.


I am very anti-CCP and try to be vocal about it (my sister no longer lives there).

However I don't mind that China copies stuff, my biggest issue is how asymmetric their commercial policies are. Actually, pretty much any policy they have is very anti non Han Chinese

If China had any flavour of democracy I'd be much more supportive, my views intersect with many different aspects of Chinese culture

I wish my country would adopt some of the successful policies China has, without the absolute disregard for personal freedom/rights


As a han chinese, I am curious to learn what policy is very anti-non han Chinese? What to hear from your perspective.


I'm curious, their landing vehicle seems to have less moving parts than the respective US rovers that use a complex sky-crane. Is there a particular benefit to using the sky-crane?


The parachute + inflatable bouncy ball landing vehicle worked for the spirit and opportunity rovers. I recall seeing something from NASA that the spirit size landing was about the maximum size that was viable for that. They were explaining why re using the same design for the new much larger RTG powered rovers would not be possible.


This book on Curiosity by it's chief engineer (who went on to work on Perserverance) covers that and other tradeoffs well:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1588344037/


I thought the primary benefit of the sky-crane method was avoiding kicking up high-velocity rocks and dust that could damage the lander, by direct impact or by falling, during the last moments of the landing? It might allow for more sensitive instruments and tools, with less protection on them.

For example the helicopter was slung underneath the latest NASA lander, and though it had a protective shell, you still don't want a rock to whack that

Arguably, though sky-crane is cool and clever, it isn't so much more complex than a system in which the rover must drive off a landing platform after it is safely down. That also has a lot of moving parts and opportunities for failure

But if a sky-crane lander lands successfully, at least you can be sure it isn't already covered in grit and dust


I think overall they got a greater mass into Mars orbit than Perseverance. They have bundled a rather large orbiter and the rover into a single mission, whereas Perseverance payload is entirely the surface rover and related modules.


It appears it is about 3+ ton orbiter, and 400kg rover/lander.


This raises a questions -

as China's Yutu-2 moon rover is still operational on the far side of the moon, if Rongzhu mars rover could be successfully deployed, assuming those two rovers (Yutu-2 on the moon and Rongzhu on the mars) can communicate with each other, via some relies of course, will that make it the first communication between two planets outside earth? has that been done before?


Its name is Zhurong (祝融), not Rongzhu.


This is so cool, imagine it would meet Perseverance and the droids would engage in some <strike>battle</strike> friendly cooperation!

Q: Are the landing sites even remotely close to each other?

Q: Had any of sides incorporated this somehow unexpected counterpart into their master programs? Can they update the programs at all?

Edit: grammar


> Are the landing sites even remotely close to each other?

The two rovers are 1873 km away from each other.

calculation and sources: https://gist.github.com/krisoft/4f06624a79f4a0df1107fb29be99...


At least JPL can certainly update the code in its rovers (at least the main programs, probably not various firmware).

I doubt they incorporated the knowledge of another rover in their code but I believe JPL rovers are “driven” by humans and do not explore autonomously. Due to the delay, the commands are slightly higher level (short term setpoints) but the point is that a human would have to command the rover to drive into another; it wouldn’t happen automatically.


Here is the footage we were able to recover from the incident https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIx0a1vcYPc "Sci-Fi Short Film “Wire Cutters" | DUST"


Nationalism is rife in this discussion. I don’t particularly welcome that on HN, but I _do_ welcome it in the general discourse of this new space race.

It’s my opinion that the first space race served as a proxy for an even more expensive arms race, and a way to channel unavoidable nationalism/idealism into good for all humankind.

The United States and China cannot avoid competition, as Thucydides would assert. A space race is a blessing in this context - I hope it heats up.


Funny that all we have to go by in this article are animations.


Yes the Chinese should have sent some people with cameras to get good video of the rover landing.


Why do the engineers in the video wear face masks? Is Covid pandemic still an issue in China?


What would happen law wise if one of the rovers had little guns and shot the other rover?


It's impressive how far China has come in just 2 decades. How significant is this achievement space technology wise? I still remember the first rover on Mars and it was a really big deal in my eyes back then.


The significance is that that space travel is becoming a commodity. In the recent past we had several countries attempting moon landings. The Chinese landed successfully. The Israelis had a failed mission recently. The Indians crashed (on purpose) a probe on the moon. The Japanese, Iranians, and probably a few others have each launched satellites into orbit. It's getting crowded there.

The other significant thing is that there is now a bit more urgency to the matter of getting humans back to the moon and eventually to Mars. The Chinese are preparing to set up their own space station and are obviously interested in going to the moon and Mars and they seem to have the technical capability to get there. It's a bit like the early days of the space age when NASA and the Russians were competing for getting there first. NASA seems busy fighting domestic battles for funding rather than getting stuff done. They got a lucky break with SpaceX having a bit more focus on that front and proposing something that might actually fly. Now they need to get serious about actually making that happen. If they don't, somebody else will.


About the urgency to go to the moon: China and Russia is planning a moon base.


What probe did Indians crashed on the moon on purpose? I wasn't able to find anything about it.

Is it the Vikram lander that was destroyed while landing because of a software glitch?


Assuming the Zhurong Mars rover can be successfully released in the next few days, China will become the second country in the world with a working rover on Mars.


Third : The Soviet Mars 3 rover was on Mars in the early 70s. Still a great achievement!


I think it’s very significant. Interplanetary navigation and retro propulsive soft landings are tricky to get right. Several recent lunar missions have failed and historically about half of missions to Mars crapped out. China is rapidly racking up a very solid track record with their lunar and now Mars landings. Also rovers are a significant step up in complexity and capability from static landers.

The Long March 8 architecture looks like it’s suitable for adaptation for first stage recovery, and they have expressed the intention to attempt it, so China are lining up to overtake Russia as the strongest competitor to the US in space technology.


When the entire world moved their factories there and then started to import everything, what else would you expect? It's funny how communists beat capitalists using greed to their advantage. Now it's a matter of time that communism will be seeping through every country fabric and it will be the end of the free world as we know it.


Consider that China is banned from the ISS and other kinds of space technology collaboration programs. China had to develop all space technology on their own. Some perspective on how significant.


They also steal research, but, I understand the point you are trying to make.


It is not like even you are open all US research to one country in an instant, they would be able to build their own next decade.

China did a really good job figuring out the know-hows and had their domestic team geared up for the job. That is nothing to be dismissed, like tired 'China can't do shit without stealing our technology' circlejerks would like to indicate.


When you look at the history of space travel. One of the first space programs (NASA) originated from Germany developments. North Korea nuclear weapons from Soviet undercover collaboration. Not familiar with specifics for your claim above, but just stealing is a miniscule part of what is really required for this type of effort


Space research in the US started before the Germans joined, but it never worked... The US had to bring Germans to make the whole thing successful.


I think you mean, German Jews brought their innovations to the US because Germany tried to kill them.




Wernher von Braun, probably the most prominent German rocket scientist who was a pioneer of the US space program, was a Nazi.



In the context of for-profit business I wholeheartedly agree with you, but in the context of space exploration, if there is research about how to go to the moon and Mars that can be "stolen," isn't the moral culpability on whatever entity is hoarding that knowledge?

Or is going to the moon and Mars the achievement of certain parts of humanity, to be kept secret from other unwanted parts of humanity?


I think some evidence is needed for the accusation that they stole significant space technology research.


Not downplaying the achievements as they just achieved something the Soviet and Russian programs could not even at the height of their powers during the space race. But there are plenty of countries most notably Russia that have allowed China to purchase military/dual use technologies. Hardware such as advanced fighter jets, missile and rocket technology, and there’s also the huge numbers of tertiary education students who leave China for education in advanced fields before returning home for their careers. All of this will have contributed in some way to advancing China’s space flight program.

They didn’t achieve this in a vacuum, let’s not perpetuate the notion that China is isolated from the rest of the world.


Did the Soviets make any major attempt for Mars? I thought that after the moon, they were mostly focused on Venus during the space race. Their ~28 Venus missions were no joke, with up to 5300 kg payloads for lander + orbiter, comparable to the Zhurong lander + orbiter payload of 5000 kg. Perhaps someone more skilled at rocket science than me can comment on the relative difficulty of moving mass to Mars vs Venus. From the table in Wikipedia's delta-v article they look about the same.

That said, congratulations to China for this achievement, and the more rovers we have on mars, the more science we learn. I hope China also has a new space telescope on their to-do list.


Soviet Union sent probs on Mars: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_3


And the US had to bring German scientists to have a space program.


Um.. why isn't this being talked about more? I remember the discussions were very lively everywhere from Youtube to HN and Reddit when India was attempting to land its probe on the moon.

A rover on Mars is a huge thing! Why are discussions relatively tame now?


India and NASA went through concerted PR efforts in the lead up to the orbital insertion and landing respectively.

In this case it was known that the rover would be on Mars sometime in "mid-May" -- and now suddenly it's here. No globally oriented, in-the-moment PR. You can't fault anyone for it not being as immediately recognized and discussed as the other two.


It's the western media... They spent several hours talking about another rocket launched by SpaceX as if it was a big scientific advancement. But a major advancement by China is gonna be a little notice, or maybe they will say how this is a danger for everyone.


Which India probe was this? I don't remember any discussion or news about India landing a probe on the moon in the past 10 years.


They failed to land it. It was https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandrayaan-2 .


Western media are more interested on China's failure than her success. Example : Recent hyping of Long March uncontrolled reentry.


Sure, let's make a list:

* Russia built a rocket that almost put its enormous core stage in orbit -- Energia -- but were careful that it didn't. 2 launches total.

* The Space Shuttle was careful to not put its enormous external tank into orbit. 100+ launches.

It's one thing to lose control of a space station before it re-enters, numerous countries have had that happen. It's another to design a launch system that's intended to have a large thing re-enter uncontrolled. Russia? Never. US? Never.


I believe even though western media are more free in principle there are only a handful of corporations which have the loudest voice.

So the comparison is between western corporate media vs. Chinese state media. That said, internet discussion forums like this are a good counter balance to corporate media


Except they are in English. I’m sure there are heaps of positive forums in Chinese on this topic.


This is good, there should always be friendly competition between Nations to drive Space Exploration. I hope this lights a bigger fire under the ass of the current US Administration and NASA to push ahead harder, faster and farther. The US doesn't know how lucky they are to have SpaceX and Musk.


SpaceX is no doubt cool. Nonetheless we're discussing China landing its first rover on a planet NASA's been flying a helicopter around for the last month. I mean, both are great accomplishments, but if you have to treat it as a competition and pick a winner...


Not to pour water on your statement, I'd say that the rate of change counts more. Nailing your first landing attempt on a powered descent (rocket-crate equivalent) is no mean feat. I'm actually pleasantly surprised given the high failure rate of Mars missions.


I'd agree rate of change counts more if both parties were at comparable technology levels. When you're still playing catchup there's a lot of opportunities to take certain engineering shortcuts.


100% agree, like hiring Nazi scientists to kickstart your space program.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Paperclip


Look all the copy comments aside, the future of the human race is getting off this rock we live on. Congratulations on the success of this mission. It moves all of humanity forward.


Yes!! Moreover, China has optimized the process of massively scale production of everything. This is good as it decreases prices.

Seeing it as a global humanity achievement... this is great.


Scale of production has never been the problem, achieving escape velocity is.

We need to invent fuels that weigh less to have any hope of getting enough stuff into space to undertake any seriously large achievements.


Once you have enough infrastructure in orbit you can start to recycle (kinetic) energy, reducing the need for fuel significantly.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skyhook_(structure) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_tether

Also some fuels could be made away from the earth, making their transport easier as there would be less gravity and atmosphere to fight against (∆v would still be a thing of course).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propellant_depot https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteroid_mining


The fuel cost means that almost all of us are destined to spend our lives here on earth. Only a handful will have the privilege of going up in a rocket.


Yes, but rockets aren’t the only way up. Musk’s million Martian metropolis is roughly where it starts to be worth thinking about developing Launch Loops and Orbital Rings.

I can definitely believe China might give that a go.

[0] https://m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Launch_loop

[1] https://m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_ring


I renember reading some Asimov writing where he mentioned that the earth is a very bad place to setup a launching base. He hypothesized that humans would create a launch base on the moon. And that with that gravity, something like magnetic launchpads could be used.

That would be fantastic!


If the human race wants to have a future, we need to take care of the planet we live on, not assume we can slash-and-burn our way through new environments whenever we trash our home too badly.


We need to do both.

Also, research on how to even survive Mars lets us help keep Earth’s ecosystem in better shape.


Congratulations!!


Congratulations to China, it is always great to see advancements in space exploration.


I would definitely welcome Space race, take 2


> China had to develop all space technology on their own.

It’s hard not to laugh at that statement. China runs the largest IP theft program in the world. To the point U.S. companies factor it in when doing business there.

Just search this - https://duckduckgo.com/?q=china+steals&t=fpas&ia=web

They also had the “thousand talents program”.

That’s not to say what they did was not impressive, it was. But it’s also a lot of stolen IP.


If the thousand talents program means this achievement doesn't belong to them, then landing on the moon belongs to the Germans.


The original claim was "China had to develop all space technology on their own", which is not correct. No one claimed that there wasn't German V-2 technology used in the U.S. space program. Likewise, von Braun acknowledged that their work built on that of Robert Goddard in the U.S.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27161834. What an utterly wretched flamewar. I'd scold all of you individually, but it would be too much work.

Please read the site guidelines and take them in more deeply. There's a lot there:

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


You mean compared to the US to use the largest spy organisation in the world to spy on contracts, technology, business secrets, and personal information of business leaders of other nations to get an edge.

It always buffles me how Americans can complain about things that China does (in the business world) while being perfectly fine about what their own government does in the same space. Many actually actively promote it.

bhy 6 months ago [flagged] | | | [–]

Just remember, by your definition, the US "stole" textile technology from the UK. [1]

[1] https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-02-18/us-complains-other-na...


Absolutely they did, but that's like saying your neighbor offended your great great great great great grandfather 143 years ago so you're justified in sleeping with his wife.


Except that it’s nothing like that at all. Nations are very different entities than individuals.

For one thing, they have a longer lifespan. The comparison of a young US stealing IP from an industrialized Britain to a young PRC stealing IP from an industrialized US makes much more sense. The argument being that “stealing IP” is what nations do to industrialize all the time.


No, it's about your neighbor slept with the wife of your great great great great great grandfather 143 years ago, and he's offspring is biting his teeth, alleging you slept with his wife, coz he probably learnt that someone can sleep with others' wife from his ancestor.


That's funny. The thousand talents program is about attracting talents globally. Now who are you to say that those talents are 'yours' not 'theirs'? How about those talents the US attracted before because 'everyone likes the freedom here'? Are those not stolen simply because the US did it under a different political banner?


>IP theft

I hope that one day we look back on Imaginary Property and the silly notion that pure information is a scarce resource that can be owned, and realize what a terrible anti-humanist idea it is. It was a concept dreamt up by lawyers primarily for lawyers.

Funnily enough, Elon Musk agrees, at least with regard to Tesla imaginary property: https://www.tesla.com/blog/all-our-patent-are-belong-you I'd hope he has the same approach with SpaceX things, but I admit I haven't looked into it as of this comment.


Put your statement in some minimal check. The IP theft you are referring are just random business patent whose sole purpose is to prevent market competition...

If you think a Mars Rover can be copied, well, you better copy one yourself...


Everyone stands in the shoulders of those who came before, and that is a good thing.

The US didn't invent physics, didn't invent gunpowder, oil, math, textiles, ROCKETS, etc. But they did "acquire" them all, somehow.

> China runs the largest IP theft program in the world.

Most IP has been given to them by "businessmen" trying to gain and edge and betting wrong. That is not theft, if anything, is stupidity. To the degree China has stolen trade secrets, do you really think no other country has a corporate spy program? Do you not know who the biggest ip "thief" in the world is?


Ah yes, so the chinese were "given" the designs to other military aircrafts which is why their fighter jets look identical to those from the USA and Russia?

[0]https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/g23303922...


...those don't look identical. It lists the J-20 as a knock off of the F-22, and you can even tell from the picture they use that they're radically different airframes.


Please explain the differences that you see because the philosophy looks pretty damn identical. Aside from the obvious addition of forward canards on the J-20, the two aircraft look nearly identical thanks to China’s access to classified F-22 development data. They were caught stealing from Lockheed Martin data on the F-22 program with a successful conviction in 2016


The wings have a completely different shape, the intakes are completely different, it doesn't have horizontal stabilizers, etc. I could go on.


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