It may not seem like much, just a science experiment really.
But China’s successful landing and operating of a robotic exploration vehicle on the moon is a nail in the coffin of U.S. world leadership.
Sure, moon exploration has been done numerous times, but by us. Until recently, only a handful of nations have even had the technological capability of getting there, much less landing. China’s Chang’e 3 is the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the moon since 1976.
And China has every intention of pushing forward with further exploration. China, Russia, India, Japan and the European Union have all announced plans to explore the moon and establish moon bases.
The U.S. on the other hand has turned its back on the moon. Its long-range plan for getting men to Mars has not been abandoned but now hinges on a far-fetched scheme to “capture” an asteroid, move it into near-Earth orbit, then use it rather than the already-existing moon as a base for Mars preparation.
Under Obama, the moon program was halted and NASA was ordered to focus energy on Muslim outreach. NASA used to have a clear mission of exploration and scientific study. Under Obama, its mission is murky at best.
China seems to have no lack of clarity, however. It wants to be the world leader, and part of that plan is putting the first permanent human presence on the moon.
Some people may shrug at that. The moon’s just a rock, after all.
But here’s the problem. Communist China has never been able to hide its desire to expand and dominate other countries. It’s been contained largely through U.S. efforts and military strength. Now, China sees our increasing weakness, and it has grown emboldened, even confronting our Navy ships in international waters.
How many wars throughout history have started with the blocking or harassing of shipping lanes?
Now imagine a militarily aggressive China putting roots in the moon. It wouldn’t even have to be a huge colony. Say a few dozen to a hundred people became permanently stationed in a strategically located crater.
If you can get to the moon and set up shop, then you also have the technical know-how to build a relatively simple device called a mass driver, basically a magnetic catapult. Peaceful uses include lobbing fuel, cargo and materials into space or sending loads of valuable minerals to Earth.
But imagine loading such a device with a sizable hunk of rock and pointing it at Washington, D.C., or New York, or any other big city on the planet.
Forget all our fancy weapons. China will have achieved world dominance with a high-tech slingshot.
As they say in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. A rock dropped from lunar orbit, if planned properly, could have an explosive impact that would put a nuke to shame.
So far, space has not been militarized. Without U.S. dominance, militarization of the moon may be inevitable.