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NASA races to mine the moon before China

Feb 28, 2023

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For all known history, when humans looked at the moon, they have seen Earth’s constant companion on their journey through the stars. In the next couple of decades though, the view could change dramatically.

The United States and China are currently locked in a new space race to the moon. Each nation wants to be the first to establish a base on the lunar south pole.

Space may be vast, but there are limited locations humans can use as a launching pad for deep space exploration. NASA said any lunar base would need to include some sort of mining operation as well. Metal extracted from the lunar surface could be used to build needed structures or vehicles, and water trapped in lunar craters could provide oxygen and hydrogen for fuel.

So, there is a definite benefit to getting to the moon first, because not only is first choice of location up for grabs, but potentially deciding how future space exploration missions are conducted or rules are implemented are also at stake.

Building a base on the moon and creating commercial space protocols is too big an endeavor for just NASA, which is why the agency is working with companies like Blue Origin, SpaceX and others to establish commercial operations in space.

Most space faring nations already abide by the United Nation’s Outer Space Treaty, but it was written in the 1960s and focuses mainly on government activities. Chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris, the National Space Council (NSpC) on policy ideas is working to come up with a series of recommendations that may eventually turn into space policy for moon mining and space exploration.

The NSpC met at the end of February to discuss the challenges ahead as more people gain access to space than ever before. The council said in addition to new space rules governing commercial space stations and moon settlements, there needs to be new regulations to deal with space debris.

Because take it from the astronauts currently stuck on the International Space Station, just one tiny piece of trash can ruin a perfectly good spaceship.

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FOR ALL OF KNOWN HISTORY, WHEN HUMANS LOOKED AT THE MOON, WE’VE SEEN EARTH’S CONSTANT COMPANION ON OUR JOURNEY THROUGH THE STARS.

IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF DECADES THOUGH, THE VIEW COULD CHANGE DRAMATICALLY. THE UNITED STATES AND CHINA ARE CURRENTLY LOCKED IN A NEW SPACE RACE TO THE MOON. EACH NATION WANTS TO BE THE FIRST TO ESTABLISH A BASE ON THE LUNAR SOUTH POLE.

SPACE MAY BE VAST, BUT THERE ARE LIMITED LOCATIONS HUMANS CAN USE AS A LAUNCHING PAD FOR DEEP SPACE EXPLORATION. NASA SAYS ANY LUNAR BASE WOULD NEED TO INCLUDE SOME SORT OF MINING OPERATION AS WELL. METAL EXTRACTED FROM THE LUNAR SURFACE COULD BE USED TO BUILD NEEDED STRUCTURES OR VEHICLES, AND WATER TRAPPED IN LUNAR CRATERS COULD PROVIDE OXYGEN AND HYDROGEN FOR FUEL.

SO, THERE IS A DEFINITE BENEFIT TO GETTING TO THE MOON FIRST, BECAUSE NOT ONLY IS FIRST CHOICE OF LOCATION UP FOR GRABS, BUT POTENTIALLY DECIDING HOW FUTURE SPACE OPERATIONS OR RULES ARE IMPLEMENTED ARE ALSO AT STAKE.

BUILDING A BASE ON THE MOON AND CREATING COMMERCIAL SPACE PROTOCOLS IS TOO BIG AN ENDEAVOR FOR JUST NASA, WHICH IS WHY THE AGENCY IS WORKING WITH COMPANIES LIKE BLUE ORIGIN, SPACEX AND OTHERS TO ESTABLISH COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS IN SPACE.

MOST SPACE FARING NATIONS ALREADY ABIDE BY THE UN’S OUTER SPACE TREATY, BUT IT WAS WRITTEN IN THE 1960’S AND FOCUSES MAINLY ON GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES. CHAIRED BY VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS, THE NATIONAL SPACE COUNCIL IS WORKING TO COME UP WITH A SERIES OF RECOMMENDATIONS THAT MAY EVENTUALLY TURN INTO SPACE POLICY FOR MOON MINING AND SPACE EXPLORATION.

THE COUNCIL MET AT THE END OF FEBRUARY TO DISCUSS THE CHALLENGES AHEAD AS MORE PEOPLE GAIN ACCESS TO SPACE THAN EVER BEFORE. THE COUNCIL SAID IN ADDITION TO NEW SPACE RULES GOVERNING COMMERCIAL SPACE STATIONS AND MOON SETTLEMENTS, THERE NEEDS TO BE NEW REGULATIONS TO DEAL WITH SPACE DEBRIS.

BECAUSE TAKE IT FROM THE ASTRONAUTS CURRENTLY STUCK ON THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION, JUST ONE TINY PIECE OF TRASH CAN RUIN A PERFECTLY GOOD SPACE SHIP.

FOR MORE UNBIASED, STRAIGHT FACT REPORTING ON SPACE EXPLORATION AND THE RACE TO THE MOON, LOG ONTO STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS DOT COM.