There’s something about space that seems to galvanize nations. It’s almost like the Olympics in terms of expressing pure ability and willpower, but large scale national projects allow the public to take even more ownership of the achievements. When the USSR won the first space race, and then lost the second, world politics actually changed. Putting humans into space, and then on the surface of the Moon, was a measure not only of technical know-how but of indomitable spirit. In a national staring contest that seemed to be mostly about endurance, that turned out to be an important point to settle.
Now, however, America is more concerned with practical matters. NASA’s funding is waning, as is support for its overall mission. Landing a human on Mars will be a monumental event, but more than likely it will not be remembered as a quintessentially American achievement in the same way as the Moon landings. The US is no longer struggling to assert itself as the world’s most powerful force of personality — but China is. This rising nation has more reason than any other to make loud, unmistakable examples of its own potential, and once again space presents itself as the most viable stage on which to do so.
This week the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced that it has finished construction of its first lunar landing module. It is now ready to move Chang’e 3 to the “launch implementation phase,” and fully expects to launch China’s first moon landing mission by the end of the year. This will be an unmanned mission, but given that China only just launched its first lunar orbiter, Chang’e 1, in 2007, the military-led space agency is making remarkably quick progress.
Written By: Graham Templeton continue to source article at extremetech.com