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These are the countries leading an ambitious race to conquer the moon

These are the countries leading an ambitious race to conquer the moon

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Japan has joined the exclusive group of countries that have achieved a soft landing on the moon, following in the footsteps of the United States, Russia, China and India. According to experts, this predicts an increase in the pace of lunar missions, with more than 100 exploratory missions scheduled for 2030, as indicated by the European Space Agency.

The renewed race to the moon responds to the need “Go to the moon to learn how to live in space, learn how to use the resources of space, and this is truly the starting point for all the vast riches of the universe.” L said CNBC Michelle Hanlon is executive director of the Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi. “The moon is a proving ground,” he said.

Resources sought by countries and companies include rare earth metals and the isotope helium-3, which is abundant on the Moon and can be useful for powering nuclear fusion reactors.. Moreover, the presence of water is a vital resource not only for human survival but also for the production of rocket fuel, which could turn the Moon into a refueling station and a platform for deeper space exploration.

Japan has joined the select group of countries that have successfully completed a soft landing on the moon's surface, a feat achieved so far only by the United States, Russia, China and India. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-hoon)

“Whoever can establish a significant presence on the Moon is making a statement about their political system, their economic system, and about who is ahead in the geopolitical competition.”Dean Cheng, senior advisor to the China Program at the US Institute of Peace, told the same outlet. “But the second, more recent part is the belief that there are significant resources on the Moon that are useful for Earth or for future spaceflights.”

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Recently, NASA announced the postponement of its manned return to the moon until the end of 2026, that is, a year after the scheduled date, amid recent obstacles that challenge the US space agency’s strategy of relying heavily on private companies for moon landing missions, which caused setbacks such as delays. In the Artemis program and the propulsion failure of Astrobotic's lunar lander. Meanwhile, China is pressing ahead with its government-backed program and aims to carry out manned landings on a natural satellite by 2030.

Although Astrobotic's Peregrine lander won't reach the Moon intact, NASA has three more special missions planned this year, including a second attempt by Astrobotic. “Ten thousand things have to go right” on a lunar mission like Astrobotic, he said Reuters Reid Whitaker, a Carnegie Mellon professor who led the development of a small, four-wheeled lunar rover aboard Peregrine. “It is very, very common for failures to occur during the course of a mission.”

“We have to be a commercial company. We are trying to be competitive in this new era of commercial spaceflight. If you look at budgets, we have to be more creative and efficient and do things differently,” Bhaskaran said.

China and NASA in a space competition: The moon is a strategic goal. (Reuters/Tingshu Wang)

China is not far behind in lunar achievements, as a mission is scheduled to be sent this year to collect samples on the far side of the satellite, after it made the first soft landing on the moon’s surface since 1976. Chang'e-3 The first landing on the far side of the moon with Chang'e-4 In 2019.

Other countries, such as India, have learned from their failures and successes, such as the landing of the Chandrayaan 3 spacecraft on the south pole of the moon. The nation sees Astrobotic's misfortune as a valuable learning curve, inspiring its startups to take on missions of this scale in the future, according to Pawan Kumar Chandana, co-founder of Skyroot Aerospace.

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