It’s the question on the minds of every astronomer: Will China’s recent moon landing usher in a new space race.
A new space race seems to be developing as China, India, and Russia are vying to place space probes and rovers, raising questions about the future of space exploration.
Just weeks after China’s state media announced the successful landing of its Jade Rabbit rover, some have speculated that the U.S. space agency NASA may seek to counter China’s move to send a manned mission to the moon and eventually to Mars. NASA recently announced plans to ramp up its Mars rover, saying it has started designing a new wheel-less rover capable of exploring the far reaches of Mars.
Regardless of the U.S.’s intentions, a number of experts say the U.S. and Russia can no longer ignore China and India’s emergence as space powers. Space exploration, once the exclusive domain of the world’s superpowers, is now being undertaken by dozens of nations aiming to show the world their technological prowess.
Among those calling for more cooperation with China is retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is, who said he wants it to be part of any international effort to return to the moon. The Canadian pointed to the Russian MIR Space Station as the perfect project to emulate moving forward.
“If you predicted in 1989 that I would fly on an American shuttle to go build a Russian spaceship, people would have said you were crazy,” said Hadfield, who last March became the first Canadian to command the International Space Station. “So I think looking forward, there’s a great opportunity to include the Chinese in the world space program — the international space program.”
Hadfield has company in calling for more engagement by the world’s superpowers. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, called on Congress earlier this year to show more “leadership” in its space exploration program.
“They are ignoring the achievements of what we risked our lives for,” he said. “[NASA’s funding] is totally inadequate for an endeavor that brings so much inspiration to the American people and educating the next generation.”