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NASA Chief Warns of Consequences if China Wins Race to Moon

NASA Chief Warns of Consequences if China Wins Race to Moon

NASA administrator Bill Nelson is concerned China’s approach to the lunar surface will be similar to how it is dominating the South China Sea.

The space race is intensifying, and the consequences may be dire if China beats the U.S. to the moon.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut and Florida senator, warned that it is entirely possible that China would cordon off the most resource-rich areas of the lunar surface if they establish a presence there first, Politico reported Sunday.

“It is a fact: we’re in a space race,” he told the outlet. “And it is true that we better watch out that they don’t get to a place on the moon under the guise of scientific research. And it is not beyond the realm of possibility that they say, ‘Keep out, we’re here, this is our territory.’”

Nelson pointed to China’s approach to the South China Sea as a basis for this concern.

The NASA boss said he fears China will mimic their strategy when it came to claiming land- and water- in the South China Sea.

‘If you doubt that, look at what they did with the Spratly Islands,’ Nelson said.

China has taken claim over the hotly contented Spratly Islands and have used the islands to house weaponry and other structures possibly large enough to store ballistic missile launchers.

NASA’s Artemis 2, the first scheduled crewed mission of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which will conduct a lunar flyby, is set for 2024. Artemis 3 is set to land crews on the surface with some help from SpaceX.

Currently, NASA is targeting sometime in 2024 for the launch of Artemis 2. However, if the clock to transfer Orion’s avionics boxes started the moment of splashdown, the 27 months estimated by NASA’s OIG to complete the task already pushes the agency’s 2024 goal into 2025. The next mission after that, Artemis 3, is not dependent on any of Artemis 2’s flight hardware. It is dependent, however, on a host of other milestones, making it unlikely that the mission, currently slated for 2025, will launch on time either.

Artemis 3 is designed to land crews on the moon’s surface — specifically, the lunar south polar region. This will require a landing system for ferrying crews to and from the lunar surface (SpaceX’s huge new Starship vehicle) and new spacesuits for astronauts to wear while performing moonwalks or cislunar extravehicular activities (EVAs). For all of these things to be ready in time for a 2025 moon landing would be a monumental feat for NASA and its partners.

NASA also plans to build a small moon-orbiting space station called Gateway as part of the Artemis program. Gateway’s timely construction hinges on a number of factors falling into place, not least of which is a rocket powerful enough to launch the station’s various modules, and also a launch tower to support that rocket. NASA selected SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy to launch the first Gateway components in late 2024 but has stated the need for the SLS Block 1B and other upgraded variations to launch additional station modules and other habitation hardware needed for long-term lunar stays.

Here’s hoping there is a little more focus on science and engineering and less attention to woke policies. It’s the only way to win this race.


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Um, the race ended in 1969.

    Nope. Not if you don’t stay there. The ChiComs can toss rocks at us from the moon (I read that somewhere).

      NotCoach in reply to EBL. | January 4, 2023 at 8:57 am

      Lol. First off, they can’t toss anything large enough to survive reentry. Second, aiming to strike the US only is virtually impossible.

        henrybowman in reply to NotCoach. | January 4, 2023 at 11:17 am

        Have you heard about this thing called COVID?
        Specificity is not a consideration for them.

          NotCoach in reply to henrybowman. | January 4, 2023 at 11:29 am

          On the bright side meteor strikes are not contagious.

          As I already pointed out China can’t pull something large enough off the Moon to be a threat. You want to attack Earth with a big rock? Send a probe to an existing asteroid and nudge it to changes it orbit to intersect Earth’s orbit.

        Did you not read your Heinlein? In the Expanse they tossed rocks from the edge of the solar system (of course, in that case they just wanted to hit earth). I am kidding of course, but having the high ground is always an advantage. We need to get to the moon and to Mars and beyond.

      Milhouse in reply to EBL. | January 4, 2023 at 9:21 am

      You read it in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. But that’s not the concern here. As the post says, the concern is that China will claim the real estate and start mining it, and forcibly keep everyone else out of it, thus stealing all the resources for itself.

        MattMusson in reply to Milhouse. | January 4, 2023 at 10:55 am

        1. The Moon is too large to occupy anytime soon. We will be long dead before there are enough people on the Moon to keep people out.

        2. Even if you gave NASA a blank check, I don’t know that they could get back to the Moon with the administrative overhead they are carrying. But, I might be wrong. With luck NASA could land the first non-binary person on the Moon.

          healthguyfsu in reply to MattMusson. | January 4, 2023 at 11:45 am

          1. Your post doesn’t say what you think it says. The US is not mining the moon, so they don’t have to keep us out. We just would have to fail to keep them out. You just admitted that it is hard to police the moon.

          2. No argument there

        MattMusson in reply to Milhouse. | January 4, 2023 at 10:57 am

        In keeping with The Moon is a Harsh Mistress theme, water is the key.
        “Whoever controls the Ice, controls the Universe.”

      SeiteiSouther in reply to EBL. | January 4, 2023 at 10:34 am

      *Brianna Wu like typing detected*

    diver64 in reply to NotCoach. | January 4, 2023 at 5:10 pm

    Am I not the only one who remembers that there is only one flag there and has been for over 50yrs? We got there first and it’s ours if we are playing that game.

The Gentle Grizzly | January 4, 2023 at 7:27 am

Another neocon. Great. Let’s have yet still Another further different war. There’s that shiny new Space Corps to play with…

nordic prince | January 4, 2023 at 7:29 am

We first set foot on the moon over 50 years ago… and it’s only now that they’re thinking, “Gee, maybe the Chinese might try to monopolize it”?

We’ve had 50 years to prepare, but it’s only been 50 years of doing squat. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so do the Chinese.

So much for the Outer Space Treaty.

    NotCoach in reply to nordic prince. | January 4, 2023 at 7:32 am

    It is BS. How will China enforce such nonsense that would, as you point out, be against international treaty concerning space. Treaties aside, unless you can hold it you can’t claim it. And China can’t hold it.

      Milhouse in reply to NotCoach. | January 4, 2023 at 9:26 am

      What is a treaty? A piece of paper. It means nothing. As soon as China lands enough resources there to start mining it will do so, and nobody will be able to do anything about it without starting a war. Just as it has done to the Spratleys. It’s taken them over and nobody dares do anything about it, because that would be an act of war, and China’s response to any attempt to interfere will be military. The only way to stop it doing the same on the moon is to get there first and establish control so that when they come they won’t be able to take over without an act of war.

        NotCoach in reply to Milhouse. | January 4, 2023 at 9:37 am

        China can’t hold the Moon. Hell, I’m not sure we can. And the Moon is a terrible place that destroys equipment quickly. Nobody will be exploiting it in our lifetimes. Not in any significant manner, anyways.

        Plus the costs of any such operations at this point in time are beyond prohibitive. Starting a large scale mining operation on the move would likely cost 100s of billions, if not trillions, JUST to get the equipment there. The biggest bottleneck in all of the pipedreams is the Earth itself. Cost per ton to get anything into orbit remains astronomical due to the fact that escaping into orbit is so damn difficult. The Apollo missions stood at 3100 tons on the pad in order to get a maximum of 50 tons to the Moon.

        nordic prince in reply to Milhouse. | January 4, 2023 at 9:39 am

        Which is kind of my point. 50 years to deal with this scenario, and they’re only just now starting to wring their hands over it. Why the sudden fuss? Is NASA trying to justify their existence, or are they in competition with the Space Force in some way?

        These are honest questions. They’ve had plenty of time to at least plan for this scenario, yet no one’s said anything until now? Seriously? No tabletop exercises regarding this? Or are those showboats reserved only for “public health emergencies of international concern”?

          NotCoach in reply to nordic prince. | January 4, 2023 at 9:42 am

          They are trying to gin up support. It worked when competing against the Soviets, so why not try the same script but use China instead?

    Send the same rockets up we had in 1969 and you don’t have to wait

    I really don’t get this. Our phones are more advanced then what those brave men and women who put that together had….

      henrybowman in reply to gonzotx. | January 4, 2023 at 11:31 am


      July 20, 2007 — With managers, moonwalkers and the media watching, NASA’s Johnson Space Center opened Friday a facility designed to protect and display the last remaining 363-foot Saturn V rocket to be assembled from parts once capable of launching astronauts to the Moon.

      The hardware is gone. The hard men who knew how to use it are gone. This particular artifact was a lawn ornament, lain on its side, quietly rusting for decades by the side of the road to the main building entrance in Houston. NASA had to be shamed into even repainting it to combat the visible rust, by a hobby rocketspotter group who offered to do the entire job themselves if the $25-billion agency couldn’t cough up the funds for the required Rustoleum.

      If NASA wants to ensure a US presence on the moon in any reasonable time, the best use of its resources would be to send a handful of GS-15s to make sure Elon always has a hot cup of coffee.

2smartforlibs | January 4, 2023 at 8:07 am

So when the dictator said “there are not going to eat out lunch man” That was a lie, who would have guessed?

Victor Immature | January 4, 2023 at 8:16 am

I think what this is BS too, but I wouldn’t underestimate China’s sway. They can bring our economy to a screeching halt, they’ve proved it. If they just said “no more batteries” we’d cave and go along with whatever they said. Who is going to stand up to them? Despite all the “friend buying” money we spread around I think ther’s be a lot of unanswered phone calls.

E Howard Hunt | January 4, 2023 at 8:23 am

The moon is racist.

Boondoggle. If they want to offset the spending they will demand to fund this new ‘space race’ from other govt programs then we can talk.

Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to drive Russia into the arms of China? Maybe it was a bad idea to set the conditions pushing for an alternative to the US Dollar as the medium of exchange in international trade?

Either China is a Strategic competitor with malign intent or they aren’t. (they are) The globalist can’t get it both ways. Start on shoring our manufacturing of critical products, reestablish energy independence and mine our own deposits of rare earth metals. Get the US to a point where we can confront China without blowing up our economy.

Translation: WE NEED MOAR MONEYS!!!!!!!!!!
Gotta pay for those SES bonuses somehow.

Replace China with Russia, and this is the plot of the TV series “For All Mankind.”

Well lets be honest here. NASA aint gonna do fuck all while they concentrate on pronouns and trying not to offend lefties (an impossibility given their sole reason for existence is to mount that outrage horsie).

–First, the moon is huge. It will take centuries for mining operations to bump up against each other.
–Second, NASA has a long, long history of begging for money by claiming Russia or China is going to beat us to (fill in optimistic goal here).
–Third, any major moon operational bases have a perfectly good reason to be nearby each other, and that is the moon is a vicious, hostile environment. Need surgery, blow out an airlock and need refuge, get a rover stuck where you can’t get it out, etc… Neighbors on the moon are far more likely to be friendly than their ground-bound counterparts, just for survival’s sake.
Fourth, NASAs Gateway project is a gigantic boondoggle, put into lunar orbit outside of the Van Allen radiation belts so it is vulnerable to solar flares, in an area where lunar orbits are highly unstable. It is designed to soak up whatever money NASA can find, and then be tapped for loose funds when any other project is short, and can *only* be lifted there by NASA’s giant booster that they’ve dumped billions into. The probability it ever gets lifted up there is zero.

Even if we didn’t reside, wouldn’t this make us the moon’s nomadic indigenous people. Let’s just fire some of those scorching hot woke bombs via tik tok. That will show em.

There’s nothing on the Moon worth mining, and the Chinese don’t need to be on the Moon to drop rocks on us. They can do that from LEO.

Once again, Bruce Sterling, and it applies just as well to the Moon:

“I’ll believe in people settling Mars at about the same time I see people settling the Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert is about a thousand times as hospitable as Mars and five hundred times cheaper and easier to reach. Nobody ever writes “Gobi Desert Opera” because, well, it’s just kind of plonkingly obvious that there’s no good reason to go there and live. It’s ugly, it’s inhospitable and there’s no way to make it pay. Mars is just the same, really. We just romanticize it because it’s so hard to reach.”

Star Trek was a children’s show. Space doesn’t actually work like that.

Whats the fuss? The Nazi’s have been on the dark side 75yrs.

I thought the Moon was covered under UN Treaty much like Antarctica?
Sounds more like a “increase our funding” play. If we want to put a base there call Elon. He will do it in half the time for half the money

Maybe if NASA wants to have a higher budget it could start by axing the decision of racing for firsts and instead accept that the first Americans on the moon got to the moon representing all Americans not representing American white males and stop with the race to have demographic based expeditions.

Elon Musk has done more for space travel in the last 10 years than NASA in the last 30.

That it has a political hack in charge says a lot about it.