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Australian writer says space belongs to Asia and western commercial companies

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An opinion piece by Australian writer John Birmingham published on December 17, 2013 in the Brisbane Times provides a hint of how the landing of the Chinese Chang’e 3/Jade rabbit is being seen in countries outside of China and the United States.

Birmingham sees that Chinese moon landing as a significant and largely positive development, albeit not for America’s own space agency.

“Significant because it marks the arrival of the emerging Chinese superstate on the highest frontier; because it throws into sharp relief the retreat of the US from space; and because it presages a new realm of competition between Beijing’s massive state supported space program and the growing band of private, western firms looking to extract value from cold rocks in the sky.”

In other words the new space race is going to be between China and a bevy of western companies like SpaceX, Planetary Resources, and Golden Spike, among others. This is actually, contrary to Birmingham’s assessment, a potentially bad situation.

The reason things could turn ugly is that China has the military muscle of a government to back its space ambitions. Without their own nation state to back them up, a group of commercial miners on the moon, say, would be out of luck if China decided to jump their claim.

Birmingham is right that NASA is a captive to crazy politics. But it needs liberating unless one desires that China becomes the dominate space power on the planet, thus taking possession of the future.

Ironically Birmingham is best known in the United States as the author of a trilogy of alternate history novels in which the United States is destroyed by an as yet unknown entity.

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