Exploration or Geopolitics

Yesterday NASA announced plans to send people back to the moon for the first time since the seventies. Ordinarily, I’d be bouncing up and down with excitement at such news: I’m all for anything that advances humanity’s exploration of space. These days though, I can’t help suspecting that this is less about science and more about geopolitics. With China having announced it’s own plans to send people to the lunar surface, America seems desperate to retain – or reclaim – what it seems to feel as it’s inherent position as the world’s leading spacefaring nation. The position the US once had, or thought it had, as the most advanced nation on earth is slipping. It assumed the cosmos was theirs alone for the taking – we can see that in it’s plans to mine the moon, as if it automatically belonged to America. The fact that other nations are catching up and possibly overtaking America is why it now seems desperate to repeat it’s great triumphs of fifty years ago. Thus while I’m all for the exploration of the final frontier, I can’t help feeling this has more to do with a once great nation trying to restore its prominence.

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