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.DONATE
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