Artemis launch could help NASA sesure early lead in moon race with China


“There is a new space race — this time with China,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson told the German newspaper Bild in July. “We should be very concerned about China landing on the moon and saying, ‘It’s ours now and you stay out’.”

Both the US and China are leading a duel to build bases on the moon’s ice-rich south pole by the 2030s. China last year announced plans to build an “International Lunar Research Station” with Russia, as more than 20 countries have joined forces. signed up to the American-led Artemis program to explore the moon.

“It’s not just our machines or our people that we send into space. It’s our values. It’s who we are. It’s things like the rule of law, democracy, human rights and a free market economy” Scott Pace, director of the George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, told CNN. “I see Artemis and our human expansion into space as a projection of our American values. It’s about diplomatically shaping this new domain on which we depend.”

China insists its efforts on the moon are purely for scientific and peaceful purposes, and Beijing objected when Nelson accused its civilian space agency of being a “military space program.”

“This is not the first time the head of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration has ignored the facts and spoken irresponsibly about China,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said in July. “The US has continuously mounted a smear campaign against China’s normal and reasonable efforts in space, and China strongly opposes such irresponsible comments.”

The US Rep. Robert Aderholt, an Alabama Republican, agrees with the NASA administrator, who previously served as a Democrat in the U.S. Senate, that the U.S. is entering a second space race, even arguing in July that today’s “space race is much more at stake.”

From a military perspective, due to its location, the moon could become the ultimate high point in a possible future conflict in space. It could also serve as a crucial launching point for future manned missions to Mars, with water and ice collected at the moon’s south pole containing the elements — hydrogen and oxygen — needed to make rocket propellant.

But Pace, who served as executive secretary of the National Space Council in the Trump administration, describes the rivalry as a “strategic competition” different from the space race of the 1960s and even sees the potential for “lower levels of mutually beneficial cooperation.” “on the moon.

“This is not a rough race to plant a flag,” Pace said. “The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 says space is the province of all humanity. China has a right to explore and use space. I just don’t want them to be there without us.” (China, the Russian Federation, and the US are all signatories to the treaty.)
Chinese space station nears completion as lab module docks successfully

The first test flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) of the Artemis program is scheduled for launch from Kennedy Space Center on Monday, August 29. If the 42-day unmanned mission around the moon and back is a success, NASA will track towards achieving its goal of getting American astronauts to the moon by 2025.

China is aiming for 2030 to land its astronauts, called Taikonauts, on the moon. Senior Chinese designer and engineer of the moon program Ye Peijian told China’s state broadcaster CCTV in November: “Personally, I think that as long as the technological research on manned moon landings continues, as long as the land is established, a Chinese manned moon landing is quite possible by 2030. said SpaceNews.

With NASA’s moon rocket already on the launch pad and China still in development, the United States has the early advantage. But Doug Loverro, former NASA Associate Administrator, says which country wins this second space race depends on the ultimate goal.

“If the goal is to land on the moon and back, the US will clearly beat China. There’s no doubt about it,” Loverro told CNN. “But if the target lands the first humans on Mars, the answer is a lot less certain.”

It’s also unclear which coalition has the edge when it comes to building the first base on the moon. China’s lunar ambitions are not limited by changing governments and congressional budgetary priorities.

Spacewalk in a nutshell with the Russian cosmonaut's spacesuit: "Drop everything and go right back"

“Our ability to build a base on the moon is severely limited by the way we use financial resources to get to the moon,” Loverro said.

The first three flights of NASA’s SLS rocket will cost $4.1 billion each, according to NASA’s inspector general, who told Congress in March that the price tag was “unsustainable.”

Unlike Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is developing a fully reusable moon rocket called Starship, NASA’s SLS rocket is completely replaceable, meaning it can only be used once. The ability to reuse rockets dramatically reduces the cost per launch, and China is considering developing a fully reusable heavy-lift rocket for future projects to the moon and beyond, according to SpaceNews.

“The real race is who will be the first nation on Mars,” Loverro said. “Just as 20th century leadership was determined by who got to the moon first, I believe 21st century leadership will be determined by who gets to Mars first.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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