The Apollo 11 mission put the first humans on the moon in July 1969. Americans should remain the only ones to have reached the moon since.
There are already US flags on the moon – six in all, which Apollo missions put in the lunar kingdom. The Americans, who have so far been the only people on earth to have reached the moon, never thought of declaring their companion to be their own US territory.
This is exactly what the Chinese are planning to do now, warns former astronaut, senator and current NASA administrator Bill Nelson (80). Nelson fears Beijing could declare the moon its own territory in order to control its resources.
“It is a fact that we are in a space race,” Nelson told Politico magazine. “And it’s true that we had better be careful that the Chinese don’t go to the moon under the guise of scientific research. And it’s not unlikely that they’ll say, ‘Stay out, we’re here, this is our territory.'”
China’s Reach for the Stars
The Chinese are reaching for space. China has just launched its 10th crew to its Shenzhou space station. “The progress they are making is breathtaking – breathtakingly fast,” said Nina Armagno (56), chief of staff of the United States Space Force.
China’s manned space program began in 2003, with China’s first astronaut Yang Liwei (57). In 2019, the Chinese became the first to land on the far side of the moon. In 2020, a Chinese probe returned rocks from the Moon to Earth as the Chinese continue to improve their delivery systems for human space exploration.
Americans rely on Artemis
It would by no means be the first time that Beijing has simply claimed territory. In the South China Sea, the Chinese are filling up entire islands and expanding reefs and atolls into residential and military facilities – in areas where the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia have always claimed sovereignty.
Nelson is confident that the Americans will be back on the moon with the Artemis mission before the Chinese can. The Artemis 2 space flight around the moon planned for May 2024 would also be the first manned lunar mission since Apollo 17 in December 1972. With Artemis 3, Americans should return to the moon in 2025 or 2026.
According to Nelson, the success of Artemis depends on two factors: “Whether the space suits and SpaceX launch vehicle are ready.” Nelson is concerned about the pace of Chinese development.
China’s national space agency said in August that around 2030, Chinese astronauts will walk on the moon. Nelson warns that there is little time to lose: “China has made tremendous achievements and progress over the past decade.” They are also targeting some of the same moon landing sites as NASA.
Asked if American astronauts will return to the moon before China, Nelson replied, “God willing.” (kes)