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What Does China’s Moon Sample Mission Success Mean for the U.S.-China Space Race?

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In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, the return capsule of the Chang'e 6 probe is seen in Siziwang Banner, northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on June 25, 2024.

U.S. News, June 2024

China on Tuesday claimed success in retrieving to Earth the first samples from the far side of the moon – a boost to the country’s space program amid its growing competition with the U.S. The Chang’e-6 lunar module landed in the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia with up to 2 kilograms of moon dust and rocks inside of it. It’s the only country to have successfully landed on the far side of the moon, which researchers believe may hold clues about its formation and details about the resources it could hold. China’s President Xi Jinping called the event a “landmark achievement in our country’s efforts at becoming a space and technological power.” It’s the latest space success for a country that is increasingly catching the eye of the U.S.

“I’ve been fairly pointed in my comments that we’re in a space race with the Chinese, and that they are very good,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson recently told The Washington Post. “Especially in the last 10 years, they’ve had a lot of success. They usually say what they mean, and they execute on what they say.” Both countries want to land humans on the moon in the coming years, with current timelines projecting that the U.S. will get there first. But NASA’s Artemis mission, which aims to land Americans on the moon for the first time in over 50 years, has already faced delays. The stakes of this space race are “much higher,” according to Peter Garretson, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council who focuses on space and defense. There are concerns that China’s goals in space could be less than diplomatic and that the moon’s potential resources are up for grabs.

Continue reading at U.S. News.

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