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Why there is a new global race to the moon

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Jan 22, 2024, 1:49:13 PMJan 22

Why there is a new global race to the moon
Magdalena Petrova

Here's why the U.S., China, India, Japan and others are rushing back to
the moonWATCH NOW
Here’s why the U.S., China, India, Japan and others are rushing back to
the moon
In this article

Japan recently became the fifth nation to successfully complete a soft
landing on the moon’s surface, joining a select few countries — the
U.S., Russia, China and India — in accomplishing this feat. But moon
landings are likely to become more common over the next few years.
Globally, more than 100 lunar missions, both by private companies and by
governments, are expected to take place by 2030, according to the
European Space Agency.

So why are all these countries eager to get back to the moon?

“The moon is a proving ground,” said Michelle Hanlon, executive director
at the Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi.
“Humanity needs to get to the moon in order to learn how to live in
space, in order to learn how to utilize the resources of space. And that
is really the stepping stone to all of the vast riches in the universe.”

Some of the riches that these countries and companies seek include
rare-earth metals and the isotope helium-3, which, while rare on Earth,
is abundant on the moon and can theoretically be used to power nuclear
fusion reactors.

“We haven’t figured out quite how to do it yet. There’s a lot of
theories about it. But, once we figure that out, the helium-3 on the
moon could seriously power the Earth, the entire Earth, for centuries,”
Hanlon said.

And then there is the presence of another vital natural resource that
countries are after: water. Aside from being crucial for human survival,
water can be used to make rocket fuel, meaning the moon could one day
become a refueling station for rockets and a springboard for deeper
space exploration.

“Whoever gets to establish a significant lunar presence is making a
statement about their political system, about their economic system,
about who is ahead in the geopolitical competition,” said Dean Cheng,
senior advisor for the China program at the United States Institute of
Peace. “But a second, newer part to this is the belief that there are
significant resources on the moon that are useful to Earth, or useful
for future space flight.”

To find out more about the new moon race and why the U.S. and China are
currently the leaders, watch the video.

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