Just a short time after America was warned it was lagging behind in the space race, China and Russia announced they will build a joint lunar base they claim will be for research purposes.
The two nations said they hope to have the lunar facility built by 2035, Wu Yanhua, a deputy director of China National Space Administration, said Friday in Beijing, according to Bloomberg.
China has been exploring the moon with rovers and claimed that one rover discovered rock samples that show the presence of water.
The Chinese-Russian partnership plans to launch a robotic mission to the moon sometime around 2025, according to Liu Jizhong, director of the administration’s China Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center.
The missions will explore water distribution and the moon’s poles, he said, according to Bloomberg.
Ye Peijian, who designed China’s first lunar probe, said China wants to send astronauts to the moon for the first time by 2030.
China’s most recent mission to the moon was the Chang’e 5, which in 2021 came back to Earth with lunar samples. A rover that landed on the far side of the moon three years ago is still exploring the surface, according to Bloomberg.
NASA is planning what is called a Lunar Gateway, which will orbit the moon.
The Russia-China partnership plans to have a surface base, rovers and an orbiting presence, according to the Daily Mail.
Late last year, officials warned that America needed to fear competition from China in the race for dominance in space.
“We are in a race that we might win, but it is certainly conceivable that China may advance in certain areas of space faster than we do,” Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas said, according to Politico.
“It is to our advantage to do everything to see that for at least the things we determine to be significantly important, we achieve as quickly as possible and hopefully before our adversaries do.”
Moran said this is a race America cannot lose.
“I trust how we will use space to be advantageous to not only the United States but the world. But I don’t trust others to do that,” he said.
Steve Kwast, a retired Air Force lieutenant general and space strategist, said China is very aggressive about its space program.
“It’s becoming more and more clear how dominant China wants to be with regard to space and the space economy,” he said. “They see the profit margin, they see the economic revenue stream, and they see the national security implications.”
Meanwhile, the Biden administration does little, said former Republican Rep. Robert Walker of Pennsylvania.
“I haven’t seen much of any desire on the part of this administration to take the significant steps necessary to first of all decide what agency is going to be in charge of this … and then fund it properly,” he said, according to Politico.
“We’re falling behind.”
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