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Space Shuttle Spy Gets 15 Years 402

goG writes "A Chinese-born engineer was sentenced Monday to more than 15 years in prison for hoarding sensitive information about the US space shuttle with the intent of giving it to China. US District Judge Cormac Carney called Chung's crimes a matter of national security, saying he had committed a breach against the trust Boeing and the country had placed in him. Attorney Greg Staples said, 'The [People's Republic of China] is bent on stealing sensitive information from the United States and shows no sign of relenting. Only strong sentences offer any hope of dissuading others from helping the PRC get that technology.' Staples also 'noted in sentencing papers that Chung amassed a personal wealth of more than $3 million US while betraying his adopted country.'"
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Space Shuttle Spy Gets 15 Years

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  • If only... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dr_Terminus ( 1222504 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:26AM (#31072390)

    If only the shuttle was run by Google, they'd have a better chance of gaining access...

    • Re:If only... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TrisexualPuppy ( 976893 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:36AM (#31072530)
      ...but let the Chinese have the secrets and dump money into their program. We were getting out of the Shuttle program anyway because it is outdated and has enormous cost. At $700+ million per launch, why not just let the Chinese waste a little money?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by maxume ( 22995 )

        The booster rockets are still pretty valuable technology regardless of the payload they are attached to.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Talderas ( 1212466 )

          I'm going with a literal interpretation. The article says information on the space shuttle, not the boosters.

          Further, going to Boeing's page on the space shuttle, all I can tell is their involvement is strictly limited to the orbiter, not the rocket boosters.

          This leads me to the conclusion of why China would want the shuttle? Maybe there's a few secrets in the orbiter worth having, but the value of the boosters is not necessarily within Boeing's possession.

          • by orasio ( 188021 )

            The rumour was that the US chose the shuttle instead of better alternatives, because it can steer orbits, much better than an ICBM.

            • Are you suggesting that the US would use the shuttle as a launch platform or delivery mechanism for nuclear weaponry?

            • Re:If only... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:13PM (#31073096)

              The rumour was that the US chose the shuttle instead of better alternatives, because it can steer orbits, much better than an ICBM.

              ICBMs don't orbit.

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                They do orbit, it's just that their perigee is beneath the earth's surface.


        • by vlm ( 69642 )

          The booster rockets are still pretty valuable technology regardless of the payload they are attached to.

          I checked and all his 300000 pages of docs were from Boeing, not Morton Thiokol.

          I can't exactly figure out what Boeing does with the shuttle. Their web page is pure marketing bull "manufacturing the Space Shuttle" uh huh sure buddy I'm sure all those subcontractors had nothing to do with it, Boeing did it all by themselves.

          Other marketing bullshit on the Boeing web page implies they developed the space shuttle main engines, I'm sure the rocketdyne folks howl with laughter at that.

          The only "real" connection

      • by fizzup ( 788545 )

        Experience is the best teacher. How do you know they wanted learn how to build a replica, rather than learning what works and what doesn't.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Why? they can get it from the Russians. They have had most of the details to the shuttle program for decades. []

        Honestly, I'm betting they will sell all their info to china for cheap low prices!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Because there is value in forcing the Chinese to make all of our mistakes as well. If they have exact specs on what works, they don't need to run through the host of mistakes it took us to get to this technology. Outdated or not, it's still a valuable stepping stone.

  • 15 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheDarkMinstrel ( 1671156 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:29AM (#31072442)
    Send him to Gitmo, then death penalty. No New York trials. He's a spy, stealing information that can be used against us. When are we going to acknowledge that we are at (cyber) war with China, have been for years, and start acting accordingly?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Spazztastic ( 814296 )

      Send him to Gitmo, then death penalty. No New York trials. He's a spy, stealing information that can be used against us. When are we going to acknowledge that we are at (cyber) war with China, have been for years, and start acting accordingly?

      Sad thing is that you're modded funny, when you should be insightful. If China caught an American spy, they would execute him after quick trial.

      • Re:15 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:47AM (#31072684)

        "If China caught an American spy, they would execute him after quick trial."

        So PRC should be emulated?

      • Re:15 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by vxice ( 1690200 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:47AM (#31072686)
        Which is why we are supposed to be better. Anyone who argues that spies/terrorists/whatever crime you really don't like/think is horribly immoral should receive any less legal protection than the next guy is actively working to undermine our liberties and founding values no better than the terrorists/ whatever they claim to be fighting.
        • Re:15 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:54AM (#31072808)
          Isnt treason supposed to come with the death penalty?
          • Re:15 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:03PM (#31072946) Homepage Journal

            Not before a trial. But come to think of it, the way some legislators (and even judges) trash the constitution, maybe they should be tried for treason as well?

            • Maybe they should.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              He had a trial and was found guilty. Then sentenced to 15 years... instead of the death penalty.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kartoffel ( 30238 )

            It would only be treason if the spy had been a US citizen. You can't commit treason against a foreign country.

            TFA doesn't specify the guy's current citizenship status, only that he was says the guy was originally born in China. He's also 74 years old and in poor health. A 15 year sentence is pretty close to a death sentence at that rate.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Publikwerks ( 885730 )
              He is a naturalized US citizen according to bloomberg []
            • Re:15 years? (Score:5, Informative)

              by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:37PM (#31073536) Homepage
              Actually, the treason clause in the Constitution says nothing at all about needing to be a US citizen. However, the Constitution does say that "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." It goes to say that a conviction of treason can only occur based on the testimony of two witnesses to an "overt act" or a confession in open court. Since we are not in a state of war with China, it would be very hard to classify China as an "Enemy" for this purpose. And there's no way you'd have the two witnesses in this case (incidentally, the two witness requirement is one of the very few examples of Biblical influence on the Constitution which otherwise shows largely more Roman, Greek and later ideas as the primary influence). We have separate laws against spying for a reason. So we don't need to try to get people for treason which is (correctly) next to impossible to do.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        If they even bothered with a trial... A US spy, if that clearcut, would just disappear, so no press coverage.

        Instead, we imprison with cable TV and free health care. I hear our prisons are lavish compared to the standard of a normal Chinese citizen. Might not be up to the $3M lifestyle "on the outside", but still better than his ancestors.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        I tend to be anti-death penalty for various reasons (what ever happened to redemption?) however, punishment? Sure.

        There is an element of hypercriticality to this...when the US runs their own spys (something which I, as a citizen, do not support, and firmly believe the CIA should have been disbanded forever after the MKULTRA affair)

        In short.... Punish the spys.... ALL OF THEM. Every single one of them, no matter who they work for, is a criminal in some way.


        • Re:15 years? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by gtall ( 79522 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:21PM (#31073226)

          And if we all close our eyes and click our heels, we'll be back in Kansas.

        • Re:15 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mrxak ( 727974 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:31PM (#31074422)


          The idea that they're all criminals is kind of silly. Most spies operating abroad actually work with diplomatic immunity, gathering relatively public information and doing analysis. There are spies, working with that immunity, who go about trying to recruit assets like Mr. Chung... somebody disaffected, or somebody who has a reason to feel a stronger tie towards another country, or merely somebody who can be bought. They're the criminals, but they're a fairly small portion of the intelligence community as a whole. They're the ones who take the biggest risks, and the ones who get the biggest rewards for their work, if they do it well.

          Unfortunately, we live in a world that's not all that friendly. Without spies, there'd be a lot more chaos and death in the world. Spies are the ones that allow leaders to go into a meeting with another leader and tell them "we know you're doing x, so cut it out" and lets military powers stay balanced enough that nobody gains a massive advantage and goes to war. Basically, spies allow for diplomacy to flourish, and they prevent conflicts. China is fully justified in wanting to spy on us and build up technologically and militarily in order to ensure their interests are satisfied. We're equally as justified in wanting to stop them from doing that so our own interests are satisfied. As a patriot, I want my own nation to have the best spies and maintain or achieve superiority in all things. As a rational human being, I'm not going to begrudge any other nation the same desire.

          I'm against the death penalty on moral grounds, but treason/spying cases are pretty much the only time when I hesitate to rule it out entirely. The cost of spying against my nation should be prohibitive, and I wouldn't be terribly upset if other nations followed suit. That's the risk assets take.

          • Re:15 years? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @03:21PM (#31076340) Homepage

            Maybe we aren't talking about the same people...

            I seem to remember them working illegal deals for arms through third parties, helping to ship cocaine into the US, doing mind control experiments on people in New York City (Operation Midnight Climax), Kidnapping people (and being sloppy about it), Torture. Let's not forget that they attempted to assassinate one world leader enough times to get him into the guiness book of world records (add multiple counts of attempted murder).

            Exactly the sort of sociopaths I want on the payroll that I pay my taxes into.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Didn't you know? We're at war with Eastasia, we've always been at war with Eastasia.

    • Re:15 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nathrael ( 1251426 ) <> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:57AM (#31072852)
      Why do we imprison them instead of killing them right away? Spy exchange. You may not hear it on TV, but it's pretty likely that they capture one of ours every now and then just as well, and what'd be a better resource to trade in for our spies than their spies?
    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      He really should have gotten the death penalty. I'm not a right wing defense nut, but treason, particularly millitary treason (take a look at the early history of the space program(s) in the USA on wikipedia) needs to be dealt with in a swift manner. 15 years is not going to cut it, and eventually he's going to make it back to China and live a very comfortable life. 15 years (how many of that will be probation???) is a small price to pay to live in the lap of luxury for the rest of your life, especially com

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        He's 74 years old. Maybe he'll have a very short life back in China.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:30AM (#31072458)
    Letting China waste billions of dollars building one of those money sinks, plus $700 million per launch, would probably be the worst thing we could do to them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I think we learned that trick from the Russians

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Except that we've saved them billions by letting them learn from OUR mistakes...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by guruevi ( 827432 )

      Not really, the only reason the US wasted billions of dollars is because of bureaucracy (later years) and initial research (earlier years). If the PRC doesn't have to do the research, that takes a big chunk away and then if the bureaucracy is replaced with a set of people that hardly get paid for the work, you save another few billions.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vxice ( 1690200 )
      When will people realize that China is keeping its currency value low and attracting manufacturing jobs to its land to slowly accumulate wealth and technology and once it is in strong enough position will call back on its debt and consume what it produces itself to raise its own peoples standard of living and eventually push us to the sideline. China is spending money on its future, we are spending money from the future. Globalization only benefits all when countries work as equals, protectionism is not th
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:45AM (#31072674) Homepage Journal

      Actually the SSME are still some of the most advanced liquid fueled engines flying today. The ET uses ALLI alloy and also very advanced and the SRB are the most powerful solid fuel boosters ever flown.
      Throw in the fact that the Shuttle probably has the most hypersonic flight time of any vehicle and you have a really treasure trove of useful information.
      Yes the Shuttle was too expensive per flight but really is a technological marvel an one that has produced a lot very useful knowledge.

    • Isn't America in debt to China for billions or trillions of dollars? I say not repaying the loan to China would be the worst thing we could do to them.

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      That was my thought too, the best thing we could do to slow down China's space program and sap some money out of their economy would be to let them steal the full plans for the Shuttle.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrxak ( 727974 )

      They're not going to build their own space shuttle if they get their hands on our space shuttle plans. They'll learn from our designs and build something else like a missile, or use the material science for some new fighter jet. It's better they start from scratch than get a leg-up from our designs. The shuttle may be obsolete, but what do you think we use to learn from and improve on?

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
        What good is a new missile going to do them when they already have enough nukes to wipe any other country in the world off the map? What, are they going to build one that will cause a nuclear armageddon a few minutes quicker?
  • by Majik Sheff ( 930627 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:33AM (#31072502) Journal

    He's 74 years old, he'll never see the end of this sentence. He lived what appears to be a good life living in the country he was betraying (about 3M worth of good life from TFA). His nursing home arrangements are less than desirable but he'll still have better care than many seniors in this country.

  • If its the current one in use don't see the problem really, all the tech in it is like what 20 years old?
    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      Other than the glass cockpit and new russian derived turbopumps most of the tech on the Shuttle is ~40 years old.
  • Jsut make it open (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:41AM (#31072590)

    In my opinion it would be a better for everyone if public-funded research bodies like NASA( and the equivalent in every other country) made their non defense-related information freely available to all anyway.

  • That's not strong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by redalien ( 711170 ) <> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:41AM (#31072592) Homepage
    China won't consider 15 years a strong sentence when they're happy to execute people left right and centre.
  • How sensitive can that technology be when we're retiring the space shuttle soon and have no replacements past the drawing board stage?
  • by nycguy ( 892403 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:43AM (#31072630)
    ...but I've known quite a few Chinese Americans, both from the mainland and from Taiwan, who despite having become citizens here seem to be more concerned about their former homeland than their new one. I remember when the American spy plane had the collision with the Chinese fighter jet in 2001, almost every Chinese person I knew, despite being US citizens, was adamant that the US should apologize. During the Tibet unrest, many Chinese Americans I know accused the US media of bias--begging the question why they care so much about how China is portrayed if they're now Americans. Maybe this is no different than past waves of immigrants, and maybe it's no different than some Jewish Americans (even born here) who show more support for Israel than they do for the US. It's also no different than Muslim immigrants to Europe who show more allegiance to their religion and the ummah than their adopted nations. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see if anyone else had any thoughts or experiences in this matter. In short, in today's world, what are the real loyalties of an immigrant population? This story obviously shows one--money--but the question is whether there's anything beyond that.
    • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:55AM (#31072814) Journal

      Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see if anyone else had any thoughts or experiences in this matter. In short, in today's world, what are the real loyalties of an immigrant population?

      As an immigrant myself, I can tell you that it depends on the reasons why one leaves his homeland. When it's money alone, loyalty usually doesn't change (it's not really something that can be bought for money). But when one is genuinely dissatisfied with the overall direction of his original society, it's another story.

      Of my fellow Russian immigrants, I've seen both kinds. Some come here (Canada) for higher quality of life, but generally try to disassociate from the local culture, and do the same for their kids - their primary social circle is all-Russian, they force their kids to speak Russian first and foremost (even though kids readily pick English first, because they use it more in school) etc. Quite often, such people return as soon as they feel that the quality of life back home has improved enough for them; sometimes, their kids do when they grow up. I've met a few such returnees from U.S. back in Russia as well, and all were rather derisive about American culture and societal norms.

      Others come here to settle down first and foremost, and they generally try to integrate, even though it's nigh impossible for the first generation (too old to re-learn everything). The parents usually still have a mostly-Russian social circle, but they try to reach out beyond it. Their kids, though, consider themselves Canadians first and foremost, and their language preferences (they know both, usually, but they prefer English) and behavioral patterns are mostly local.

      In conflicts of interest such as the one described in TFA and by you, consequently, the first group would tend to align themselves with their country of origin, while the second group would support their country of residence.

    • by JerryLove ( 1158461 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:03PM (#31072942)

      Recall that China officially and overtly indoctrinates it's citizens to be pro-Chinese-government. It's like wondering why a Baptist is republican.

    • by Bieeanda ( 961632 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:10PM (#31073036)
      I don't think you're a troll, but I do think that conflating national affiliation with cultural identity doesn't work.
  • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <`ten.tsacmoc' `ta' `yburxyno'> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:43AM (#31072636)

    In many countries spying results in the death penalty, why not in this case? Spying is a grevious crime against one's country and has been handled by the death penalty across countless cultures since before recorded history. For that matter, if your in a position of trust (vs just sneaking around) than it isn't spying, but treason. With a sentence of 15 years we appear to be weak, not strong from the eyes of someone who could consider the crime.

    Certainly a spy that was caught by China would receive the death penalty, so nothing new there. Nothing against the Chinese (vs another nationality), but this business of pandering to foreign governments that spy against us has got to end.

    • by ph1ll ( 587130 ) <> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:02PM (#31072928)
      The death sentence for "economic espionage" [from TFA]?

      That seems a bit harsh....

      As I understand it, the guy was working for Boeing - which is not the same thing as working for the government. Sure, it was on an outsourced government project. But if the information really were that essential to national security, why the f--- would you outsource it?

      (Or am I being somewhat naive about the "military industrial complex" bogeyman, where Boeing and the US Government become synonymous...?)

      • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

        Space tech is basically ICBM tech which is weapons tech. We fight economic wars (see: Iran, Iraq, North Korea) not bullet wars (see: number of US casualties since 1970 vs pre 1970. War's war and when someone is killed by the leaked tech, it's murder.

      • by BZ ( 40346 )

        > why the f--- would you outsource it

        The US government "outsources" _all_ its military procurement, in the sense that they don't operate their own manufacturing facilities, don't necessarily do all the military R&D, etc.

        So if, say, you're working for Northrop Grumman (the only manufacturer of US nuclear aircraft carriers and one of the two manufacturers of US nuclear submarines) and you're on a classified project and you leak the details of that project to some other country... then that's espionage,

    • by L3370 ( 1421413 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:13PM (#31073092)
      It's not so easy to carry the death penalty for treasonous crimes here in the U.S. because treason has to be witnessed and confirmed by no less than 2 people. Treason was one of crimes that the US founders decided to go heavy with detail. They understood the treason argument was an effective tool for tyrants, so they wanted to be very clear on the subject.
  • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:44AM (#31072654) Homepage Journal

    I say let him go and let China do something with the plans if they so wish. Its not as if the shuttle program is continuing after this last flight or that NASA is going to do anything useful with the plans, other than let them gather dust or get lost. They don't have much of a budget anymore to even create a suitable replacement at this point. As a fan of the shuttle (despite the cost issues), it would be nice to see someone wasting their money on keeping the dream alive.

    I know this is probably not a popular viewpoint in the USA, but I just want someone to get us to the moon again, somehow in my lifetime.

  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:47AM (#31072690)
    Judge Carney is being very short sighted if he expects that this "strong sentence" will dissuade people from stealing technology and giving it to China. I would be less likely to want to steal secrets from the Chinese Government because, if caught, I could be tortured and subject to unthinkable brutality. Note that this is not a suggestion that we implement torture. But another slashdotter noted that Chung's retirement in Federal Prison will give him better healthcare options than many Americans that have been good, law-abiding citizens will have access to. And, these Americans have worked hard for all of their lives. Honestly, a better punishment would be to strip Chung of his citizenship and deport him to China and finally to sanction the Chinese Government.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 )
      He would be given a million dollars and treated as a hero there. THAT is what you want to do? Yeah, please do not throw me in the briar patch.

      But we SHOULD sanction the Chinese gov. These are active spies since this is a cold war with us. We are insane for allowing this.
  • It's interesting that as much as we Americans deride the terrible space shuttle, only the Russians were able to build anything like it, but only the Americans were ever able to operate one.

    Kinda makes you wonder, that, if we are not going back to the moon, can we at least keep these shuttles flying, or gasp, build a more modern one. I mean, the whole point of the new NASA way is to perfect in orbit assembly, and it seems we're kinda doing that now with the space shuttle and...

    maybe we just need to make a new space shuttle that can be boosted farther into deep space, if we need to.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:08PM (#31073010) Homepage Journal

      I don't think the Shuttle is terrible It just should have been replaced. It has been flying for about 30 years now.
      Building a more modern Shuttle. I would would really like to see that. The X-33 was supposed to be a shuttle replacement but it got canned for what I think where not good reasons.
      Also you don't want to boost the shuttle farther. What you want is a space tug that takes payloads higher. That was supposed to be part of the shuttle program but it got canceled.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheKidWho ( 705796 )

        Terrible reasons actually... If they had just decided to use Aluminum tanks instead of the(at the time) troublesome composite tanks they could have had the X-33 flying...

        • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:52PM (#31073792)

          Terrible reasons actually... If they had just decided to use Aluminum tanks instead of the(at the time) troublesome composite tanks they could have had the X-33 flying...

          Way too heavy. The whole X-33 project depended on a bunch of exotic technologies simultaneously succeeding. Linear aerospike, metallic heat shield "tiles", exotically structural materials... May as well have bet the farm on a warp drive and computer AI, too.

          Reusable SSTO does not appear to be technologically or economically viable at this time. Its like demanding Christopher Columbus wait until he can fly a supersonic Concorde across the pond instead of using his wooden sailboats.

  • Red herring (Score:2, Troll)

    by jockeys ( 753885 )
    Am I the only one who thinks the $3M remark is a red herring?

    Treason is treason regardless of how much money you make doing it. He should swing for this, treason still has the death penalty.
  • by rdmiller3 ( 29465 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:48AM (#31072708) Journal

    The Chinese government wants to promote their own agenda. Let them do so using their own advances, not by stealing the advances built by cultures which actually encourage advance.

    Let the culture which reveres "ancient wisdom" prove its value by using feng shui to launch their space vehicles.

    • Too bad that the use of spies is not at all part of Chinese "ancient wisdom."

      "Hence it is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for purposes of spying and thereby they achieve great results."

      -Sun Tzu, the Art of War. (6th century BC)

  • Aboard (Score:5, Funny)

    by pgn674 ( 995941 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:52AM (#31072766) Homepage
    I was definitely more excited when I read that as

    A Chinese-born engineer was sentenced Monday to more than 15 years in prison for hoarding sensitive information aboard the US space shuttle with the intent of giving it to China.

  • I heard on the radio that after the final shuttle mission NASA will be selling off the shuttles. Why try to smuggle out the information when you can just buy the shuttle outright and reverse engineer the entire thing in your own country?
  • by rarel ( 697734 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:58AM (#31072866) Homepage
    A funny thing happened in the 60's during the development of Concorde, the USSR was of course spying on the Europeans as they were also workin gon their supersonic Tupolev. One of the (numerous) big issues was that of the rubber with which to make the tyres, as it had to be solid enough to resist the speed and whatnot. In a documentary from 99, one of the European engineers said they had noticed spies collecting material on runways after tests, so they created a sort of unusable goo and pasted it on the runways for them to collect. He said he'd have given anything to see the Russians' faces while trying to make sense of the stuff to create tyres with it...
  • by kenp2002 ( 545495 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:01PM (#31072918) Homepage Journal

    Ahh nothing gets a people's mind off their own corruption and failing nation like a good old fashion cold war.

    People are easily united against a common foe.

    Nothing like calling up China and saying, "Hey that Cold War thing with Russia was real good for the economy. Wanna play the bad guy for a generation or two?"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rsborg ( 111459 )

      Nothing like calling up China and saying, "Hey that Cold War thing with Russia was real good for the economy. Wanna play the bad guy for a generation or two?"

      Amusing, but you forget, unlike the USSR, the P.R. of China owns several trillions of dollars of our collective asses... and you can thank the past four administrations for that situation (especially "W").

  • AFAIU US is not going to build more of them. Let it replicate by the chinese, they can test i a few times and when it find you buy it back for 1/4 of the price it cost you to build it in the US. Works for iphones, thinkpads, should also work for shuttles. Even better: Develop the next generation together with china.

  • by mdm-adph ( 1030332 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:36PM (#31073506)

    If it'll help launch a new space race, I'm almost for letting them have it all.

    I want to see the Chinese do something completely wild, like launch an 180-day orbit mission to Mars or something, completely blowing away anyone's expectations of what they're able to do, a la 2010.

    That'll restart the space race.

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam