China to soon land on the moon before NASA – ‘Aggressive competitor’
SpaceX launches all-civilian crew into orbit
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As announced by the then US President Donald Trump in 2019, the US plans on landing on the moon again. The same year, the Chinese Chang’e 4 spacecraft made the first landing on the far side of the Moon, which started an unofficial race between NASA and China to land on the moon again ever since.
“We have every reason to believe that we have a very aggressive competitor in the Chinese,” said Bill Nelson, NASA’s administrator, in a statement.
“It’s the position of NASA and, I believe, the United States government that we want to be first back on the moon.”
China was labelled the “fastest rising power in space” by the Centre For Strategic and International Studies in 2018.
Beijing is currently building a new space station in low-Earth orbit while working towards a manned moon landing.
The initial deadline introduced by Donald Trump was 2024 but so far NASA has been pessimistic about meeting such a close target.
The Artemis programme, named after Apollo’s mythological sister (and a homage to Apollo 11, the first crewed mission to land on the Moon in 1969) has been launched and has already faced some controversy and delays.
“With the recent lawsuit and other factors, the first human landing under Artemis is likely no earlier than 2025,” Mr Nelson said.
Jeff Bezos, has sued NASA after his private spaceflight company Blue Origin was turned down for a $2.9bn contract awarded to Elon Musk’s business SpaceX.
Spacesuits will also be delaying the launch according to NASA’s inspector general.
“Given these anticipated delays in spacesuit development, a lunar landing in late 2024 as NASA currently plans is not feasible. The suits would not be ready for flight until April 2025 at the earliest,” the inspector general said.
Bill Nelson has also called for more funding to the space agency to successfully complete a manned moon landing.
NASA and SpaceX will now move on to testing the new Space Launch System (SLS) – a massive rocket that will put a spacecraft in orbit around the moon, and which the agency hopes will be launched in February.
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The mission following that will not launch until at least May 2024 but will be a crewed mission to the spacecraft orbiting around the moon.
The Artemis programme is supposed to land the first woman and the next man on the moon.
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