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The Asian Space Race

Boldly going where we've gone before.

by Michael H. Thomson
July 5, 2003

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All of us who are blessed with sight have occasionally glanced at and pondered the Moon. Throughout our nation, more than a few, young and old, have gazed at it with telescopes of varying complexity. None of us have ever thought of anyone ever being in possession of the Moon. Some of us are comforted by the fact that certain international treaties exist to prevent lunar domination from happening. This is much like the Sioux, Crow, Cherokee, and Pawnee being comforted by the treaties they signed protecting what they considered their birthright. Yet, my friends, sadly, the Moon may soon have colonists, developers, and exploiters of its rich mineral deposits, and those folks may not be us... In fact, at some point, we may be their customers!

Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today in a column entitled "Next Space Shock: The Chinese are coming!" spoke of the ambitions of the Chinese to reach the moon in the next 10 years or most likely sooner. Actually, India and Japan have the same ambitions, so one might conclude that there is a space race going on in Asia. A space race that we, the U.S. are not participating in. A space race that our politicians, Republican and Democrat alike are not concerned about. A space race that may spell the doom of American world leadership in everything that matters in less than twenty years. Why?

While, we, the U.S., have been policing the world, spending billions of dollars trying to democratize populations who could care less, fueling our economy with fossil fuels that we are as dependent upon as an addict is to crack cocaine, others have been quietly building their technologies (or stealing ours) and thinking long range(20-100 years) about how to grow and develop their populations. Long range thinking in the United States is either 4 or 8 years depending upon what party is in favor or has the slickest spiel to lure Joe Sixpack into the voting booth

China, India, and Japan have burgeoning populations and rapidly growing economic engines. They are long sighted enough to know that Saudi Arabian, Middle Eastern, and Siberian oil and natural gas supplies will not take care of their energy demands too much longer. They cannot afford to be at the mercy of the Middle East or the United States. when it comes to procuring a fuel supply for their populations. They are going after an alternative source of fuel-and its on the moon and the moons of some other planets in our solar system. 25 tons of the substance they are seeking, Helium 3, could fuel China for a year or longer depending upon the design of the fusion nuclear reactors they develop. This substance resides literally in the dust of the Moon.

Now keep in mind these fusion reactors are not a reality yet, but our Asian brothers and sisters are thinking "when" not "if" and preparing accordingly. India, Japan, and China all hold a piece of the fusion puzzle. When they decide its in their best interest to put the puzzle together, watch out! It will be more dramatic than the impact of Henry Ford, Alexander Bell, and Thomas Edison combined.

Someone once said, "he who controls a thing, owns a thing." Whoever controls the Moon's mineral deposits, owns the Moon. Think about where your dollars go the next time you buy a refrigerator "made in China".

Update: I got part of the story right - Wrong Country!

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S.E. Shepherd from Chicago, IL writes:
July 7, 2003
I still don't understand why NASA spends all its time and money experimenting on how ants live in outer space and repairing TV satellites instead of space exploration. It has been nearly two generations since we landed men on the moon, and though I realize we found “nothing” other than rocks, if NASA really wants to generate some public interest in their program, why not lead another exploration to the Moon? With a total of less than 20 people who have actually stepped on the Moon, can we honestly say we know all there is to know about the Moon?

The greatest motivation for NASA was the Soviet Space program. When it threw out the white flag of surrender, NASA became more and more bureaucratic, and less and less about space exploration. Maybe a Chinese space program is just what NASA needs, competition in the “Space Race” to get going again.

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