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New international moon race could define humanity's future

16 0 0
19.07.2019

Fifty years after Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins blasted off for the moon, a new space race is on. It is one that may affect the future of humanity even more than its Cold War predecessor, both on earth and in the wider cosmos.

As anniversary celebrations get underway, NASA finds itself in the midst of a major shake-up – the result of the Trump administration's pledge to return humans to the moon by what he hopes will be his final presidential year of 2024. That would be well in advance of China's stated intention of conducting its own manned landing in the 2030s, and it would be no surprise if the new U.S. 2024 target prompts a similar shake-up in China's space program.

Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi - like Trump another assertive nationalist - India this year aims to be the fourth nation to send an automated probe to the lunar surface. The Chandrayaan 2 should have blasted off on Monday, but was postponed at the last moment for still unexplained technical reasons.

That setback serves as a reminder of just how difficult such programs can be – but also, perhaps, the political pressures on them. That's likely to be the case in the United States if Trump wins a second term, with the president tearing up an Obama-era plan to land on an asteroid to prioritize the perhaps more easily........

© Japan Today