COMMENTARY | Now that the United States has officially pulled out of the space exploration program by retiring the space shuttle in 2011, China is planning to step up their game. While they have danced around the issue for the past several decades, this time around they seem even more serious. The Chinese government has issued a formal government document that outlines their intentions to have their own man on the moon around 2025. They want to bring back 2 kg of moon rock by 2020.
Already the Chinese have been amping up their space program, sending orbiting spacecraft to map the moon and conducting their own spacewalk in 2008. Their ambitions are admirable as everyone dreams of being on the moon and creating new technologies based on findings there. Ideally as they gather their information from the lunar surface, they will share it with other nations so that all of us can prosper.
Russia was the first country to send a man into orbit. The United States was quickly on its heels as the race to the moon began. We got there first, putting man on the moon for the very first time. And then we gained more of the prestige in such a monumental achievement. The Russians continue to be our cohorts in space exploration. Both of our countries have been the ones who have had the technology growing to add to our missions and dreams of how to use that never-ending frontier in the sky. But with the end of our shuttle program, even the Russians are leaving us behind. Now if our astronauts want to go into outer space, they must hitch a ride with the Russian spacecrafts. The Chinese may allow us to ride with them, as well, but what does that say about us?
Chinese technology can quickly surpass that which we have in the United States. It grows and develops much faster than it ever did before. It will not take them another 40 years to catch up to where we are now. All of our gains that have laid a foundation for their work will quickly be diminished as they take over the program.
Americans are already being looked down upon for our attitude and increasing stupidity. Our kids’ test scores are dramatically dropping. We are selling our businesses overseas and going further into debt. We need to save some face and join the Chinese on their quest to the moon, instead of handing over the reins.