While there has been a strange dearth, thus far, of official reaction to the successful landing of the Chinese Chang’e 3 on the moon from either NASA or the Obama administration, that doesn’t mean that Americans are not following the mission and with some concern.
Paul Spudis, a planetary geologist and frequent commentator on space policy, bemoaned not so much the fact that China is on the moon, but America is not also there in a December 15, 2013 post on his Lunar Resources vblog. He sees the concept of American exceptionalism tied up in space exploration, noting that the Apollo program ended in 1972 with no one having walked on the moon since.
“That China would want to energetically embrace space exploration and exploitation is not the issue, but rather that the United States is wandering aimlessly, without strategic direction. China understands that the Moon is a resource essential to space (as well as terrestrial) leadership and success; the United States apparently does not. China understands that expansion into space improves the economy and lives of their citizens here on Earth; the United States apparently does not. Very perplexing.
“China on the Moon is not the issue. The issue – and the problem – is that the United States is not on the Moon, nor planning to return there to harvest resources necessary to build and profit from the inevitable transportation system to be built in cislunar space (the area between the Earth and the Moon, where all of our commercial and national space assets reside). American exceptionalism must stay viable and be a strong presence along side China and other nations.”
“Today, China has made its first step in obtaining control of the resources of the Moon, a resource that space entrepreneur, Robert Bigelow feels is worth a quadrillion dollars. Control of the Moon’s resources will not only give the nation that has ownership of them control of the world’s economy, but of the space between the Moon and Earth for the purpose of military interdiction of anything being launched from Earth.”
Berman, no coincidentally, is the author of a science fiction novel, “Red Moon,” that depicts a race to the moon by the United States and China with the latter attempting to grab its resources and use Earth’s nearest neighbor to its military advantage. He sees, obviously, Chang’e 3 as the first step for happening in reality what he depicted in fiction.