I picked up on this one from le blog lunar express, posted last Friday. Apparently, the Chinese helped out with the SMART-1 mission from Shanghai.
For the French-impaired, I offer the following free-form, dictionary-free translation:
“The communications attempts between SMART-1 and China were a great success. Entering into a type of partnership between ESA and the Chinese Space Agency, the radiometric observation station based in Shanghai on the roof of the Sheshan Hill building in the Songjiang district was able to follow with precision the positioning of the satellite in its Lunar orbit.
-Photo of cool building-
It’s working toward a repeat success for the launch of Chang’e, the Chinese Lunar prove which should take flight next April.”
I’m trying to picture such a thing in midtown NYC, or downtown Dallas. It does bring to mind the fact that we really do need to beef up our Deep Space Network (DSN), and perhaps there are unconventional ways of doing that. Spreading the assets around is of course always a good idea politically. Before someone brings up the threat of such an item being a security target, let me assert that if one is going to let phantom fears drive one’s decisions, one is going to arrive at a lot of bad decisions. Such a target would be of marginal value at best, and what would be accomplished? (‘We deny the yankee infidels the ability to speak with their infidel probes in heaven!’ Get real…)
I think it would be kind of cool, and offer another way for people to feel connected to space. (‘Look kid, that’s where they do traffic control for the Moon!’) That lack of connectedness is certainly something that is increasingly coming to light as people in the space industry look more into why they’re being ignored.
It’s also something I need to address for next year’s NSS ISDC if I hope to draw attendees from the local metroplex. My goal is about 200, though I’d be happy with 20. Speaking of which, I need to get back to work on that. Hmm, Chang’e-1 in April, Memorial Day in May…
Update: It loks like Leonard David has also picked up on the story, giving a lot more details and background here.