China is fast becoming the biggest threat’ to the American supremacy in space. They plan to put their very own astronaut on the Moon. The intention of a manned spacecraft to the Moon comes after the Chinese had revealed extravagant plans to build its own space station. An officially written white paper provides the future goals for the Chinese space program.
China plans to enter the space exploration grand stage in three steps. The first one involves the said lunar mission. The next one involves replicating what NASA has done with the LRO, viz. putting a satellite around the moon. The last one involves returning lunar samples to study back to Earth.
This is probably the worst news for NASA’s space program. It is still to recover from the retirement of the space shuttle fleet and is dependent heavily on the Russians for trips to and from the space station. Also, the weakening economy is not helping things.
The Chinese have a long way to go, though, before they can even begin to think about challenging the US supremacy. No hard deadline has been given, but unofficial word indicates that the Chinese would like to put up the space station by 2020 and the man on the Moon by 2025.
Ken Pounds, a researcher at Leicester University, UK, thinks this might be a blessing in disguise for the faltering US space program:
Assuming the Chinese are serious, which recent history suggests they are, then I believe the impact could be game-changing. “It is very unlikely the U.S. would not respond. That could breathe new life into their space exploration programme, which is currently going nowhere.
Space exploration is a great idea, but history tells us a grim and different story about two powers trying to outdo one another in that regard. Let us just hope that space remains a peaceful frontier for man, for ever!