For those of us 55 and younger can only imagine what it was like to watch the US send men to the moon in 1969 using computers less powerful than the phone you are reading this with. We’re told the country hasn’t been prouder since the end of World War II. If the sky were no longer the limit, surely the possibilities in the future could only be positive…
It didn’t work that well. Just ten days ago, a poll found that 58% of Americans believe the country’s best days are behind them, a record. Some of us are surprised that the number isn’t higher. A significant portion of this country wants a second civil war. Sometimes it seems like the country needs a true enemy to unite us as one. In an “ideal world,” that enemy would be climate change.
We don’t live in an ideal world right now, so we’re going to take what we can for the best.
What most Americans don’t know is that if things currently go as planned, NASA wants to have a lunar “base” similar to the ISS by the end of the decade. The lunar base would be the starting position for any manned mission to Mars. The first significant mission to this goal is the Artemis unmanned rocket.
But the US isn’t the only nation making significant strides toward a lunar presence, China is also emerging as a true space power and has plans for manned missions as well. There are both military and scientific reasons for taking on this challenge in a new space race, but perhaps the most desirable outcome would be to revive some sort of national pride and unity.
The United States will not return to the moon alone. NASA directs Artemis, but the program has brought in a number of international partners, including the space agencies of Japan, Canada and Europe. Two other space powers, China and Russia, are not part of the consortium, but they have crewed lunar plans of their own.
China and Russia announced in March 2021 that they were teaming up on an ambitious project called the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), which, like Artemis, aims to establish a base near the moon’s south pole.
In fact, the Two projects appear to be targeting the same general patches of lunar properties(opens in new tab) — Highland regions that offer easy access to plenty of sunlight and water ice it is believed to be abundant on the shaded floors of polar craters.
It is very difficult to say whether the Chinese will still cooperate with the Russians at this point. Yes, Russia has decades of experience in space exploration and rocketry. But Americans have certainly noticed that China has been doing a lot in space lately. China doesn’t seem to need Russia, and it’s hard to imagine how Russia can afford a taco right now after being banned from the planet by all respectable nations.
One would hope that there is enough space around the moon’s south pole highlands that there are no real tensions over who is where. Of course, one also hopes that no nation suffers a catastrophic failure with lost lives. But it sure would be nice to see the US put a little elbow grease back in and propel our path to greatness.
Sometimes one wonders if there is anything that could unite Americans. Without an inbound asteroid or a Pearl Harbor-type attack, perhaps just another space race, a successful one, can unite the country a little and allow everyone to take a little pride in calling themselves just “Americans” and skipping any “leftists.” ‘ or ‘correct’ descriptions.
@JasonMiciak believes a day without learning is a day not lived. He is a political writer, columnist, author and lawyer. He is a Canadian-born dual citizen who spent his teens and college days in the Pacific Northwest and has since lived in seven states. Today he enjoys life as a single father to a young girl and writes on the beaches of the Gulf Coast. He loves making his flower pots, cooking and is currently studying philosophy of science, religion and non-mathematical principles behind quantum mechanics and cosmology. Please do not hesitate to contact us for lectures or other concerns.