Dec 23 2013
Could the 21st Century shape up to be China’s on the Moon … and even — if the U.S. allows it — here on Earth?
On December 14 China took “one giant step,” to quote Neil Armstrong (44 years earlier) in that direction by soft-landing Chang’e 3 and successfully deploying the “Jade Rabbit” rover on the Moon’s surface.
This is a great achievement that could lead to Chinese astronauts on the Moon by the 2020s, and clearly signals our rapid approach to the next 1960s-style Maslow Window and the new International Space Age.
For historical perspective, Russia achieved the first soft landing on the Moon in January 1966 (Luna 9). And the first manned landing on the Moon was by the U.S. in July 1969 (Apollo 11) followed by 5 more (3 w rovers), with the last coming in December 1972.
Significantly, the most recent soft landing on the Moon was by Russia in August 1976. Thus China’s Moon triumph is the most recent gentle landing on the Moon in 37 years!
This 4-decade hiatus in human and robotic exploration on the lunar surface is apparently due to the Maslow Effect, involving multi-decade self organization of the international economic system into twice-per-century, transformative “critical states”.
Thus China becomes only the 3rd country in history to join the international Moon Club, as well as the 1st and only nation to do it (so far) in the 21st Century!
So…will China win the 21st Century Moon by default?
Many have noticed China’s success. For example, NASA planetary scientist and long-time major advocate of human missions to Mars, Chris McKay is now supporting a U.S. lunar base, mainly because without it we’ll be less able to influence future international plans for the Moon. Lunar and Planetary Institute scientist Paul Spudis agrees that the Chang’e-3 mission is about expanding China’s future options on the Moon, in this case by flight-testing a “new and potentially powerful lunar surface payload delivery system.”
Former NASA boss Mike Griffin believes that ISS-style international cooperation with China in a Moon base initiative is currently possible as long as the U.S. is “clearly ahead,” but this window will rapidly close as China’s space capabilities expand. Likewise, long-time NASA backer Rep. Frank Wolf (R), currently serving his 17th term in Congress, is retiring and has written President Obama asking for action regarding a “U.S.-led return to the Moon” in the next decade.
Unfortunately, the response of NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is to say No to new “flagship missions” for NASA, “The budget doesn’t support that.”
Bolden’s absolutely right about the budget, but he neglects to focus on the connection between the budget and the current sluggish economy, and ultimately that’s the responsibility of his boss, President Obama.
And because Apollo-level initiatives since Lewis and Clark only occur during JFK-style economic booms, the question really is: How do we stimulate significant growth in the economy?
The formula’s been known for some time. President Kennedy used it with considerable success in the early 1960s to create the greatest boom in modern history and to support Apollo. Because of its importance, we’ll examine JFK’s stimulus program in the near future.
One more point about China’s new Moon: early leaks from China suggested a long-term program culminating in a Star Wars-style “death star” base on the Moon with significant offensive military potential.
Such hoopla is undoubtedly for internal consumption (in China), but military Moon bases are not without merit. For example, in 1984 Edward Teller extolled the virtues of a lunar base for continuous, secure surveillance of Earth. And George Friedman presents a dazzling future space war scenario featuring military bases on the Moon’s farside.
You can read more here; CLICK: The Geopolitics of a Moon Base
Did the folks in Beijing just remember to renew their subscription to Stratfor?