US fires starting gun in new race to the Moon

July 20, 1969: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” — Neil Armstrong

The US has announced that it will put a woman on the Moon by 2024, sparking a new space race against Russia, China and India. The winner could dominate the next era of human history.

On 20 July 1969, 600 million people across the world crowded around their television screens as Neil Armstrong took his first step on the Moon.

Fifty years on, the US has unfinished business.

“We’re in a space race today, just as we were in the 1960s, and the stakes are even higher,” declared Vice President Mike Pence to the National Space Council.

The US wants to return to the Moon by 2024, which is just five years’ away and four years earlier than planned.

“The first woman and the next man on the moon will both be American astronauts launched from rockets from American soil,” he said.

But can the US succeed in its new mission?

We certainly have the technology, say experts. However, NASA and private companies will have to build and test new rockets on a very tight schedule and an even tighter budget.

This time around, new contenders are taking the field.

In January, China shocked the world when it landed the first ever probe on the dark side of the Moon.

And just this week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared his country a “space superpower” after it shot down a satellite. This display of strength has sparked fears that there will one day be wars in space.

Lunar-cy

What is at stake? The new space race could decide not just Donald Trump’s legacy, but which countries will control the next era of human history. But this is no longer about individual nations. As climate change threatens our planet, could space exploration be the key to human survival?

Or could it be our downfall? India’s latest move is a reminder that space could be the next great battleground. Indeed, there is evidence that Russia is testing attack satellites that could cause massive disruption in enemy countries. Is a new space race bad news?

You Decide

  1. Would you go the Moon?

Activities

  1. What should humanity’s top three goals be in space exploration? Write down your suggestions.

Some People Say...

“There is perhaps no better a demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.”

Carl Sagan, discussing a photograph of the Earth taken from space.

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The first Space Race produced many “firsts” for mankind. In 1957, Russia beat the US to launch the first satellite, Sputnik 1. Russia also put the first person into space in 1961. His name was Yuri Gagarin.
What do we not know?
Whether the new so-called space race will be an opportunity or a disaster for the human race.

Word Watch

Woman
NASA was criticised for cancelling the first all-woman spacewalk, which was scheduled for today. It did not have enough space suits to fit the female astronauts.
Probe
Chang’e 4 landed on January 3, 2019. It carried seeds which sprouted into the first plant on the Moon.
“space superpower”
India is one of the most popular places on Earth for private companies and other governments to launch satellites into space.
Legacy
What in the future people will think of him. If Trump wins a second term, 2024 will be the last year of his presidency.