This piece is monumental in its ignorance of human spaceflight in the U.S.:
China can put people in space, as can Russia, but the United States cannot. In fact, the landing on the moon should be seen as another step toward China’s goal of landing humans on the Moon. The Colombia disaster made NASA risk-averse, slowing the development of manned programs to a crawl. The previous administration’s decision to rely on commercial space programs for human flight has not yet born fruit, and these efforts so far have repeated what U.S. space programs did in the 1950s. The promised flight to Mars was always a fantasy. Right now, China has the most promising human spaceflight program.
The United States can put people in space any time it wants; it just doesn’t want to. Note that the words “Commercial Crew” don’t appear in the article, though DM-1 is scheduled in the next few weeks, maybe even this month. Barring a major problem, we should have two separate domestic vehicles capable of sending humans into space this year. And it completely ignores both SpaceX’s and Blue Origin’s plans for much larger reusable systems. The notion that China is ahead of us in any aspect of spaceflight is nonsensical.
[Update a few minutes later]
Speaking of China, Leonard David has the latest on its farside landing.
[Update a few more minutes later]
Meanwhile, Mark Whittington continues to fear the yellow menace:
The landing is a remarkable achievement. It illustrates Beijing’s burning ambition to become the supreme superpower on Earth, in part by conquering space. India and a private group in Israel are planning their own moon landings early in 2019. NASA is due to sponsor commercial lunar landings as part of President Trump’s return to the moon initiative in the next year or so.
The prize of the new space race is the moon’s natural resources and control of the high frontier for all practical purposes.
The moon is a big place. No one nation is going to dominate it. And it’s a long way from a robotic lander, regardless of which side it lands on, to a lunar base.
Mark continues to operate under the delusion that we can (or should) do Apollo again. Lunar resources will be developed privately, if at all. It certainly won’t happen by a government that has elections every two years.
[Update a while later]
No, James Andrew Lewis, America is about to take back human spaceflight. And in fact it is China that is “repeating what U.S. space programs did in the sixties.”
Sigh. Here’s another one:
The development is especially shocking because China’s space program seems to have come out of nowhere. And in some sense it has. Whereas NASA was formed in 1958, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) was founded in 1993.
During the past quarter-century, however, CNSA has made up for lost time – illustrating in classic, tortoise-versus-hare fashion that slow and steady wins the race. Today, despite its belated start, CNSA boasts a robust astronaut (taikonaut) program, an operational space station (Tiangong-2), and a whopping thirty-eight rocket launches in 2018 – more than any other country.
Even though it’s generally quite secretive, CNSA is very open about its intention to land taikonauts on the moon by the late 2020s or early 2030s, with an eye to colonizing the moon shortly thereafter. The United States and Russia have made similar declarations. But all things considered – especially now, in the wake of Chang’e 4’s spectacular success – China must be considered the frontrunner.
As Jeff Foust noted on Twitter, it’s only “shocking” and “seems to have come out of nowhere,’ if you weren’t paying attention. And no, China should not be considered the “frontrunner.” Landing a rover on the moon, even on the farside, is neither a necessary or sufficient condition to land human there.