A new space race? China raises urgency for US return to the moon

It’s not just rocket fuel that powers America’s first moonshine in half a century. rivalry with China The burgeoning US space program is helping bolster NASA’s efforts to return to space in a big way as the two countries strive to get people back to the moon and establish the first lunar bases.

U.S. intelligence, military, and policy officials are making it clear that they see a number of strategic challenges for the U.S. in China’s space program, echoing the U.S.-Soviet rivalry that inspired the moon race of the years. ’60. This is because China is rapidly assimilating the civilian and military space conquests of the United States and realizing its own achievements.

On the military front, the United States and China exchange accusations of space weaponry. Senior US defense officials have warned that China and Russia are developing the ability to eliminate satellite systems based on US intelligence, military communications and early warning networks.

There is also a civilian side to the space race. The United States is reluctant to take a leading role in space exploration and commercial exploitation from China and is paving the way for technological and scientific advances that will propel China to power in space and prestige on Earth.

“In a decade, the United States has gone from being the undisputed leader in space to one of only two peers in a competition,” Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe said in a hearing this week. Armed Forces of the Senate. “Everything our army does depends on space.”

In another hearing last year, NASA administrators announced Bill Nelson. “That should tell us something about the need to get our duffs off.”

NASA, the US civilian space agency, expects a new launch date for this month or October for artemis 1’s Uncrown Test Moonshot. Technical problems have hampered the first two launch attempts in recent weeks.

Likewise, China aims to send astronauts to the moon this decade, as well as establishing a robotic research station there. Subsequently, the United States and China intend to establish bases for the intermittent crew at the south pole of the Moon.

Russia has aligned with China’s lunar program, while 21 countries are joining a US-led effort to provide guidelines and systems for civilian exploration and development in space.

The parallel effort comes 50 years after American astronauts last closed the doors of the Apollo module and moved away from the moon in December 1972.

Some space policy experts speak of a new space race, noting the stark difference between John F. Kennedy’s Cold War campaign and the Soviet Union’s Sputnik advancing and becoming the first to bring people to the moon. This time around, the United States and China see the lunar programs as a step in a progressive agenda to explore, eliminate and potentially exploit the resources and other untapped economic and strategic opportunities offered by the Moon, Mars and space. large scale. We see.

In addition to gains in technology, science and work with space programs, Artemis supporters point out the potential for mining and ice water on the Moon, or using the Moon as a basis for asteroid prospecting: the administration Trump particularly emphasized the prospects for mining. There is potential in tourism and other commercial activities.

And when it comes to space more generally, Americans alone have tens of thousands of satellites that the Space Force says are worth a half-trillion-dollar global space economy. Satellites guide GPS, process credit card purchases, help manage TV, radio, and cell phone feeds, and predict the weather. They ensure the military and intelligence community’s ability to track perceived threats.

And in a world where China and Russia are teaming up to try to overtake America in space, and where US billionaire-led private space efforts present a NASA rocket launch at some point as futile. If we do, America will regret giving up its pride and strategic advantage. Artemis supporters say they are developing the moon and space only for Chinese President Xi Jinping and Tesla tycoon Elon Musk.

The Moon programs indicate that “space will be a competitive field on the prestige front, which will showcase advanced technical skills and know-how, and then also on the military front,” said Aaron Bateman, professor of international history and science. . Fellow of the George Washington University Institute for Space Affairs and Policy.

“Those who support Artemis and those who see it as a competitive tool want the United States to be on the table to shape the future of exploration on other celestial bodies,” Bateman said.

There is no lack of such warnings as the Artemis program starts to take off. “Beijing is fighting for military, economic and prestige gains to match or exceed US capabilities in space,” the US intelligence community warned in its annual threat assessment this year.

A study group commissioned by the Pentagon said last month that “China is on track to overtake the United States as a major space power by 2045”. He called this part of the Chinese plan to promote authoritarianism and communism on Earth.

This has at times sparked heated discussions between Chinese and American officials.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in July that China’s space program was guided by peaceful principles. “Some US officials continue to sabotage China’s normal and fair space initiatives,” Zhao said.

Flying on the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built, Artemis 1 is aiming for a five-week demonstration flight that will put the test dummy into lunar orbit.

Hopefully, American astronauts could fly around the moon in 2024 and land there in 2025, culminating in a program that would cost $ 93 billion over a decade of work.

NASA feels that a woman and a black person will once again be among the first American crew members to set foot on the moon.

The space agency says lessons learned from returning to the moon will help guide the next phase of manned flights.

China’s ambitious space program, meanwhile, lags behind the American generation. But its secret army-related program is evolving rapidly and creating specific missions that could bring Beijing to the forefront of space flight.

China already has this Mars rover, joining an already American rover. China first carved out a landing on the opposite side of the moon.

Chinese astronauts are now on the rise, finalizing a permanent space station in orbit.

The 1967 United Nations Space Treaty, intended to shape railings for space exploration, prohibits anyone from claiming sovereignty over a celestial body, establishing a military base there, or placing weapons of mass destruction in space. East.

Scholar Bateman said: “I don’t think it is a coincidence or coincidence that the people of that era now claim that the United States was actually investing resources to get it back.” On space and national security. “Time will tell if this turns into an ongoing program.”

Chris Koons, a Democrat from Delaware and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Does the rivalry with the Chinese “ensure continued interest in our space program? Of course, “Koons said.” But I don’t think competition necessarily leads to conflict.

“I think it can be a competition, like the Olympics, it just means every team and every team will move higher and higher. And therefore, humanity will benefit from it, “she said.

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