Other international partners may also participate, Moscow and Beijing emphasize. But do they want that too? The US, Europe, Japan and Canada have their own lunar program, and with that, a space race between those two blocks seems imminent.
British journalist Andrew Jones closely follows Chinese space travel. According to him, the word space race is not really appropriate, because the comparison with the 60s of the last century does not hold. There is no deadline and no clear goal like then. In 1969, Russia and the US insisted on being the first to have a man on the moon before 1970.
At the same time, there are also parallels, because the geopolitical tension between China and the US is increasing, and that, just like during the Cold War, is accompanied by a prestige battle in space.
“There isn’t really a race,” says Jones. “It could develop into a competitive struggle. What you see now is that a schism is developing, the international partnerships are being redistributed a bit.”
China has made a lot of progress in recent years with ambitious missions to the moon, Mars and a new space station, the first components of which will be launched this year. That space station, although smaller, is comparable to the ISS, where China is not welcome due to US concerns about national security. China is also developing a heavy rocket that can deliver a manned spacecraft to the moon. A prototype of that lunar ship was tested in orbit last year.
The plans are very similar to the American moon program. NASA wants to build a small space station around the moon, the Gateway, and perform manned moon landings from there. There are also ideas for a lunar base, the Moon Village.
China and Russia want moon base: the start of a new space race?
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