Home Foreign Policy Is This Why China Went To The Dark Side Of The Moon?

Is This Why China Went To The Dark Side Of The Moon?

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China has embarked on an ambitious space program – surpassing the United States in orbital launches last year (primarily for satellites), and now landing their own lunar rover on the dark side of the moon, the Chang’e 4.

The stated purpose of Beijing’s robotic lander is to collect samples and identify what minerals are there. And while the Chang’e 4 is unlikely to find precious metals such as gold, silver or platinum – there may be something up there that could serve as a “lunar fuel station to the stars,” as the South China Morning Post puts it; Helium-3

The primary material on the moon is helium-3, which for now is too expensive to haul back to Earth. In theory, the non-radioactive isotope could be used as fuel for the next generations of spacecraft to explore deeper into space.

Imagine driving from “NYC to LA without gas stations along the way”, said Peter Diamandis, the entrepreneur who founded the XPrize to encourage private spaceships. “If you can get the fuel from space, it reduces the cost.”SCMP

What’s more, if China does find anything else of value on the far side of the moon, mining it would be far easier than an asteroid because of its gravity and proximity to Earth.

The next step, of course, would be what every fan of author Robert Heinlein has been looking forward to since they were a kid; A moon base. The United States has been debating whether to send a mission back to the moon as soon as possible, or build a lunar base that would take quite a bit longer to orchestrate.

“The US thinks in presidential terms,” said University of Notre Dame lunar expert Clive Neal. “China thinks in decades.”

China may be testing its ability for more sophisticated missions, according to Neal of Notre Dame. That poses the question of why China chose its particular landing place, at one of the moon’s oldest and deepest craters.

The answer could be simple, he said. From the far side of the moon, Chinese scientists can see farther into space because Earth’s radio waves can’t get in the way. –SCMP

Nasa’s top administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted in late November that the US would be partnering with two companies to return to the surface of the moon, “sooner than you think!”

 

We’re going to move towards a day where we commercialize all of low earth orbit to where NASA is one customer of many customers in a robust commercial marketplace,” said Bridenstine, calling the new endeavors a “transformation” of the agency’s culture. “Then we can use NASA resources to do things where there isn’t yet a viable commercial market … We can build the architecture to get to the moon with our international partners.”

“The case we have to make, which is absolutely true, is that the quickest way to get to Mars is to use the moon and to use the Gateway,” he added. “It will reduce risk. It will reduce cost, because anything you can do that ultimately can be tested around the moon is going to lower our cost to go to Mars.”

In December Nasa announced the “Moon to Mars” program, of which the first step is (you guessed it) – to return to the Moon, where the space agency will commission private companies to deliver small scientific instruments, followed by development of an orbiting “gateway” which will support human missions to the lunar surface – and serve as a base of operations for future missions to Mars and beyond.

The second phase of missions will confirm that the agency’s capabilities built for humans can perform long duration missions beyond the moon. For those destinations farther into the solar system, including Mars, NASA envisions a deep space transport spacecraft. This spacecraft would be a reusable vehicle that uses electric and chemical propulsion and would be specifically designed for crewed missions to destinations such as Mars. The transport would take crew out to their destination, return them back to the gateway, where it can be serviced and sent out again. The transport would take full advantage of the large volumes and mass that can be launched by the SLS rocket, as well as advanced exploration technologies being developed now and demonstrated on the ground and aboard the International Space Station. –Nasa.gov

The question remains; will China become proud owners of the first gas station in space?

via zerohedge

22 COMMENTS

      • The term, which has always been used to describe the side of the Moon that is never exposed to us, is not an inappropriate term. It can also mean the hidden, deep, mysterious or unknown part of something. Hence we have the dark Web. Something like that.

  1. THEY may let us get on to the Moon, but Mars is THEIRS, not to be sullied by the earthlings. We could be headed for a serious smackdown by the Aliens. Soon, the Deep State is going to have to tell Trump about THEM, but not to much else.

  2. OK You say they landed on the Back side (Dark side) to look for a Future Fuel.Isn’t Helium-3 also fund on front side(light side) or is it that Propaganda plays a big part??? Americans landed on the Moon almost 50 yrs ago (long time for them to catch up) So they had to do the Dark side(where telescopes can’t see) to hide their Intent. Or maybe they know of a landing site (crash site) they are interested in and want nobody too see what they are up too..Hmm interesting for sure.. CK YOUTUBE on landing..

  3. There is no dark side of the Moon; both sides – facing and away from the Earth- are lit by the Sun at some time. There is a far side to the Moon. Aside from helium 3, a big contributor for space travel would be the substantial amount of ice in the depths of craters at the lunar poles, the depths of which never see sunlight. Water would be a necessary component for travel beyond the Moon and would be difficult to bring in quantity directly from Earth. The question of whether man (if the feminists will permit this and not “humans”) should venture out there, particularly when robotic exploration tells us pretty much all we need to know, was answered by the late Patrick Moore when he concluded that Apollo ended when it should have, before three astronauts were left there on the Moon to die. Mars, we have seen, looks a lot like northern Nevada, but without oxygen, and nobody wants to live even in northern Nevada WITH oxygen.

    • The term, which has always been used to describe the side of the Moon that is never exposed to us, is not an inappropriate term. It can also mean the hidden, deep, mysterious or unknown part of something. Hence we have the dark Web. Something like that.

  4. Come on! This article misses the obvious! Chine would build its base on the far side of the moon, because it would be a military base. China would begin to develop equipment, tactics, and strategies for space combat.

    Helium 3 is also the fuel of fusion reactors – which China – as well as the U.S., the EU, and maybe Russia, are developing. H3 is the best fuel to use for fusion reactors, and it’s on the moon in huge quantities. However, H3 is all over the moon, not just on the far side of it. No. The reason for going to the far side of the moon is to remain out of sight, while they do their thing.

    Therefore, the U.S., and everyone else who can should also build on the far side of the moon. We should be ready to ignore all territorial claims the Chinese Communist Party will make, like we do with the South China Sea – international waters.

    • Yes, Direbear Coat, although I am surprised to have gone through the article and so many comments before anyone mentions the obvious. Instead, we quibble over the correct word for the dark-side.

      They went to the far-side for security reasons. We would have to send (an expensive) mission to see what their base looks like, or if they are launching from it. Oh, not by today’s technology. No, we would have trouble seeing very much even on the bright-side these days. But future technology: years from now, after they have built their infrastructure, when we might be able to see the front-forward face of the moon better.

      See, we don’t play chess enough.

  5. Don’t make it complicated. There is no background light and noise from our atmosphere and surface may have less mechanical noise for improved long-term observation )or system lock-on) of a guide target.
    Of course, what stops the use of high-power energy weapons via Mirrors that extend over the lunar edge. A little imagination goes a long way and we should go there too.

  6. Just let politics get in the way ,and the only way we will get back to the moon will be by asking the Chinese or Russians for a ride Remember who shut down the shuttle program

  7. It’s just too bad we didn’t know about their intentions. We would have reserved a few seats on that thing for Nancy Pelosi and a handful of democrats. Let it serve a useful purpose.

  8. The term, which has always been used to describe the side of the Moon that is never exposed to us, is not an inappropriate term. It can also mean the hidden, deep, mysterious or unknown part of something. Hence we have the dark Web. Something like that.

  9. So is it wise and intelligent to build a space station on the very side of the moon that gets repeatedly hit with asteroids? Thats like the rebuilding of a home on the beach year after year of hurricanes hitting it. Dumb people, just keep doing the dumb things over and over again.

  10. This may sound like a lack of knowledge on my part, but this universe was created orderly and for a purpose. Every planet has its particular place for a particular purpose. Iif any planet moved one way or the other out of its place, then everything on this earth would be effected. Look at the Moon how it effects the oceans, etc. I am not so sure that global warming or climate change has anything to do with what man does on earth as what man may be trying to do in space with all the trips into space, and all the satellites and debris that is out there.

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