When former President Obama scrapped the U.S. Manned Space program via Presidential fiat back in 2011, he signaled to the world that the U.S. was ceding its leadership and expertise in space exploration to nations like China and India.
In one of the most arrogantly oblivious declarations any president ever made he said he was ending the Constellation manned lunar landing program because “we’ve been there before.”
Instead of sending more Americans to the moon, he talked about possibly landing men on an asteroid in 2025 or perhaps Mars at some later date.
Our friends the Chinese were no doubt ecstatic at this announcement.
They have already embarked on a Lunar Exploration Program that will send both robots and men to the moon by 2025. In 2011, a Chinese rocket carried a boxcar-sized module into orbit, the first building block for a Chinese space station scheduled for completion sometime in 2020–the same year that the International Space Station, which is jointly operated by the U.S., Russia, Canada, Japan and 11 European countries, is scheduled to be de-orbited.
In early October a Long March 3C rocket with the Chang’e-2 probe took off from Xichang launch center. The Xinhua News Agency said Chang’e-2 would circle just nine miles above the rocky terrain in order to take photographs of possible landing locations.
It is China’s second lunar probe – the first was launched in 2007. The craft stayed in space for 16 months before being intentionally crashed on to the Moon’s surface. This year the Chinese began mapping the entire surface of the moon with orbiting vehicles and in 2012 it will land lunar rovers that will begin prospecting for strategic materials.
Chinese scientists believe the moon is loaded with base metals and something called “lunar helium-3,” considered a perfect fuel for
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