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Spies Caught Selling Shuttle Secrets to the Chinese

Article written: 13 Feb , 2008
Updated: 26 Dec , 2015
by

You wouldn’t think espionage would have much of a place here in Universe Today, but you’d be wrong. Four people in the US were arrested recently, accused of selling selling secrets to the Chinese. And what were they selling? Details about the space shuttle and other US aerospace programs.

The space shuttle? Really? Didn’t anyone tell them the program would be shelved in just a few years. And they’re not exactly the safest way to get into and back from space.

Anyway, here’s what happened.

The US justice department charged Chinese-born Dongfan Chung with 8 counts of economic espionage, conspiracy, and making false statements to FBI investigators.

The 72-year-old engineer had been working in the aerospace industry for the last 30 years, mostly at Rockwell and Boeing. He retired back in 2002, but he’d been still working as a contractor for Boeing as recently as 2006.

Apparently he sent trade secrets to China, including information on the C-17 military transport aircraft, Delta IV rocket and the B-1 bomber; in addition to information about the space shuttle.

And he’d been a spy for a long time, receiving instructions from Chinese officials as far back as 1979. In one letter sent back to China, Chung expressed a desire to contribute to the Motherland.

If convicted, Chung is looking at 100 years in prison.

So that’s one person, what about the other 3?

They’re Tai Shen Kuo, 58; Yu Xin Kang, 33; and Gregg William Bergersen, 51. Bergersen is a US weapons system policy analyst with the defense department, and was charged with conspiracy to disclose national defense information to a foreign government. Kuo cultivated a relationship with Bergersen to get the information, and Kang was ferrying it to Chinese officials.

Kuo and Kang are looking and life in prison, and Bergersen will face at least 10 years.

Original Source: Department of Justice News Release


16 Responses

  1. Vera says

    Alas, spies should take care! Esp. you joined the other citizenship…

  2. Astrofiend says

    Hmmm. China is a worry, not just due to this but because of the utter ruthlessness with which the Chinese regime seems to pursue it’s goals and interests. And it seems they will eventually achieve their goals, whatever they may be…

  3. Nathan says

    Alas, you are right. We really need to do something about the chinese. We all have our spying but the chinese are known to be ruthless. And thats just the tip of the iceberg!!

  4. Dave says

    Out with “Cold War”
    In with the “Fortune Cookie War”
    The way the “ChiComs” are embracing “capitalism” with the same fervor they did when absorbing Communism. This event would be more on the line of “Industrial spying” that any geo-politcal-miltary intent.

  5. Johnny Blues says

    Embracing Capitalism? I doubt it. They watched the Russians play at Capitalism and saw how readily open the “arms” of the USA widened. But Putin has no finesse. The Chinese have infinite finesse and will milk their “reconstruction” for all its worth. When China has caught up and surpassed the US technologically (they already sell more military weapons than any other country with missles being the backbone of their product line) we will see that China has used Capitalism to further its tyrannical aims.

  6. lawrence mccurrach says

    idd, the chinese are now enthusiastic and clever capitalists. They are still quite a long way behind the US though, weapons tech wise at least. They are slowly catching up in terms conventional weapons like aircraft, but their space tech is lagging quite far behind, their Asat tech is 20 years behind, and once the US get their BMD up it will be very very hard for the chinese to catch up…

  7. Wes Lambert says

    According to domestic theory, The US is no.1 in military tech and could do a lot of damage to an asian or middle eastern adversary. The only problem with that concept is numbers. For instance China wants territory, resources and warm bodies to do the dirty work/labor etc.
    The US could not defeat China if engaged in an all-out war. The time honored rule of warfare for conquest is that technology can take territory. but it takes mass amounts of troops to hold it with copious amounts of reserve forces to hold it against counter-attack. We don’t have those kind of numbers.
    I believe our days at the top of the heap are sorely numbered. Our politics are corrupt, our foreign policies are ridiculous, our country and it’s people are going broke while enriching certain industrial interests.
    Our enemies, and they are many, are watching the good ole’ US of A slide slowly into the event horizon of history’s version of a stupormassive black hole.
    We are certainly not unique. Cultures, civlizations and their various governments have been doing this since the first few idiotic hominids decided that living on the ground, walking upright and making tools, was a better idea than sitting in a tree and peeling the occasional banana.

  8. The Scott says

    We’re doomed.

    China is going to build a shuttle. And then it will be just a dumb an idea as it was for us, and then their shuttle debris will impact our cities. Maybe that’s their plan…

    I detect alot of cold war fervor in this thread. so, what’s the order? Is it Mexicans, Germans, Japanese, Germans, Russians, Chinese? Soon we’ll be looking at the Mexicans again… oh wait that’s right.

    I think it’s a little late to worry. I think we should have worried back when we found out the chinese were stealing our nuclear secrets. The shuttle tech is not going to help them, except to show them that they shouldn’t waste their money on it…

    That should make us about even then, eh lawrence?

  9. RUF says

    Lawrence said:
    …their Asat tech is 20 years behind…

    and our Shuttle tech is from the 1970’s. That’s 30 years behind. Apparently, this puts them 10 years ahead of us.

  10. Phan An says

    We , human , live together in a same planet , together make a same world . No one , no country could survice lonely .
    All your fears are about that China can overcome USA , aren’t they ? You are being selfish if you think only the maker have the right to use the product . If you are smart , rich and strong , please help the other who are poor , weak all over the world .
    About the Chineses , I don’t stand by them . If USA made something China wants , the China have to get the permision of USA to use it . But , as we all know that spies are what any country have , and spies’s jobs are not allowed in any country , so if someone is captured , we just can consider it unlucky. USA wants to keep the secrets for their military and strenght in space , China want the secrets for the same ones . None of them really wants something good to all the world . But , however , USA don’t let those kind of secrets fall in Chineses ‘ hands again , I especially don’t trust them .
    finally , unfortunately and sadly , most of us want to rule the others with iron , blood and even smart which should be used for helping .

  11. Phan An says

    More thing : This world has enough damage from weapons . So , USA , China or others don’t need to create them more .

  12. JUAN says

    WELL MAYBE THE MEXICANS CAN MAKE A SHUTTLE WITH CANS OF TECATE BEER, THATS DANGEROUS FOR U.S.A, AS YOU KNOW WE ARE, AS MEXICANS, VEEERY INTERESTED IN DECLARING WAR TO THE UNITED STATES, THATS A STUPID ISSUE.

  13. Tech Roach says

    I’m not American but I’m not a big fan of China anyway. Spying is really bad. Chinese aren’t smart enough to do anything on their own without a DIY from US ?!

    I heard India is developing a new kind of space vehicle. They claim it is safer and has some new technologies.

  14. Rafael says

    The sad truth is that all countries maintain and seek out spies around the world – including our own USA. Don’t you guys watch the movies?

  15. sarah tan says

    The view of the US that China as a threat is plainly overreacting. China is too busy with its own domestic problems to do anything threatening US interests. The US is just trying to maintain its position as a democratic superpower, thus is afraid that China would influence US ideology. But if the US is that strong, what does it need to fear?

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