China lands on the Moon for the second time

Ars Technica

China landed a spacecraft on the Moon this weekend for the fourth time, successfully placing its Chang’e 6 lander in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the Moon.
After the landing on Saturday evening (United States time), the autonomous spacecraft will spend about 48 hours collecting samples.
A methodical approach This is the country’s most ambitious lunar mission to date and builds step-wise on China’s previous lunar spaceflights.
Then, in December 2020, China landed on the near side of the Moon with the Chang’e 5 mission.
With its latest mission, Chang’e 6, China has put together elements of its last two lunar spacecraft, returning material from the far-less-explored far side of the Moon.
Future robotic missions will focus on surveying the south pole of the Moon in anticipation of human landings.
“China’s human spaceflight program has been slow,” said Autry, co-author of Red Moon Rising on the US-China space race.
For symbolic reasons, Autry said, the United States needs to land humans back on the Moon before China—even if NASA did so more than five decades ago.

POSITIVE

The Chang’e 6 lander from China made a successful landing in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the Moon’s far side this past weekend, marking the country’s fourth lunar landing.

Following its landing on Saturday evening (US time), the self-governing spacecraft will assemble samples for approximately 48 hours. It will accomplish this through the use of a robotic arm to gather regolith from the surface and drilling to gather material from below ground.

After that, before making a return trip to China, a portion of the spacecraft is scheduled to launch from the Moon’s surface, probably on Monday night US time. In the event that the mission is successful, samples from the far side of the moon will have never been returned to Earth before.

a methodical manner.

China’s most ambitious lunar mission to date, it builds incrementally on the country’s earlier lunar spaceflights. A small vehicle and rover were successfully landed on the near side of the Moon by the nation in December 2013 during the Chang’e 3 mission. After five years, it launched Queqiao 1, a relay spacecraft, and Chang’e 4, a mission to the far side of the Moon. As there is no line-of-sight communication with Earth, no nation has ever set foot on the far side of the moon.

Then, in December 2020, China’s Chang’e 5 mission made a lunar landing on the near side of the moon. In the end, this spacecraft brought back 13.7 kg of lunar dust and rocks to Earth, making China one of only the US and the USSR to have returned samples from the Moon.

China has assembled parts of its previous two lunar spacecraft, Chang’e 6, and returned materials from the far side of the Moon that has received much less research. In advance of human landings, robotic missions in the future will concentrate on mapping the Moon’s south pole.

implications for geopolitics.

China has set a target of having two astronauts land on the moon by 2030 in a manner reminiscent of Apollo, with the ultimate goal of constructing a “research station” at the South Pole. If China keeps developing its lunar architecture, this might occur in the latter part of the 2030s. These deadlines can be met, especially considering the nation’s straightforward approach thus far.

NASA is in charge of its own global program to return to the Moon while this is happening. NASA’s attempts to bring back to the Moon a combination of government-led, commercial, and semi-private missions are more disorganized. The official goal of the Artemis Program is an initial human landing in 2026, but no sane observer thinks this date is achievable; 2028 to 2032 is a more realistic time frame.

NASA’s plans are far more complicated, but because they combine public and private investment, they should ultimately be more sustainable. Additionally, they are less expensive because they will use reusable spacecraft and rockets, either entirely or partially. NASA is attempting to move away from looking back to what worked during the Apollo era and toward reusable rockets and in-space refueling, which is a bet on the future of space transportation. However, it’s unclear if NASA’s vision of reusable space travel will materialize in five years or in twenty.

What happens in this “race” to be the first space program to reach the Moon—China’s or NASA’s—and, perhaps more importantly, which country has a more sustainable program—will determine the most prominent space narrative for the remainder of this decade. Perhaps all China needs to do is emulate the successes of NASA’s Apollo Program. It would be viewed by NASA as a policy failure.

lots of things on the line.

While China’s plan is simpler, Greg Autry, director of space leadership at Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, told Ars that in the long run, the United States has the better strategy because of its stronger commercial and government partnerships.

The US-China space race co-author of Red Moon Rising, Autry, claimed that “China’s human spaceflight program has been slow.”. Since the program’s inaugural flight more than 20 years ago, SpaceX has launched more people into space in the last four years than China has. America boasts superior technological capabilities, an extensive and varied array of launch vehicles, and numerous companies striving to resolve the obstacles in landers and spacesuit development. “.

The fact that China’s authoritarian government offers stability and the benefit of long-term planning adds another level of competition. The political priorities of NASA can change. According to Autry, Congressmen must continue to back NASA and put pressure on the agency to proceed quickly. The US should adhere to the Artemis plan.

Even though NASA completed this mission more than 50 years ago, Autry stated that the United States must put men back on the moon before China for symbolic reasons. He predicted that China would win and that “America will look more dysfunctional than ever.” China’s model of authoritarian state socialism would become more popular.

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