China has been on a slow march to Space, and although they had a sluggish start, their program is in high gear. In recent weeks, they made headlines with one of their space labs falling back to Earth and mostly burning up in the atmosphere, but that was a planned event and marked the end of a successful program. It was one of two space labs meant to prepare China for their own space station. They are aiming for the mid-to-late 2030s to get their first taikonauts (a term used for China National Space Administration (CNSA) astronauts) on the lunar surface.
Russia is also focused on the moon. Next year they hope to launch a lunar rover. They have two more lunar missions planned after that. Putin recently said he hopes to have cosmonauts on the moon as well.
I got the chance last December to ask one of the last humans to walk on the moon, Harrison Schmitt, a few questions at a press conference commemorating the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission. There were rumors about NASA refocusing on getting back to the moon, so I asked Schmitt if he felt we would soon be in another space race to the moon. He told me, “I think it has already started.”
Just a few days later, Schmitt was standing next to President Trump as the President signed a new NASA directive making the Moon our new focus, putting Mars on the back burner.
To read more about this, including details on the Chinese and Russian lunar programs, check out my story “How Russia and China Ignited the New Space Race to the Moon” on Den of Geek.
The @modernamericannews crew enjoyed an amazing dinner at the Saturn V Hall at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration commemorating the 45th anniversary of Apollo 17. Apollo 17 crew member Harrison Schmitt was the Keynote speaker. We were very grateful guests of @natgeochannel. Check out the giant Saturn V rocket hanging over our heads! #Amazing! @alebuddha @jennaleekp @spacecampusa #NASA #nasasocial Thx @tahli555 @jenniferisabela @nadia_326 Brian Boothe