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THE NEW SPACE RACE-THE LUNAR GOLD RUSH

THE ORIGINS

The first space race started On Friday, October 4, 1957 at exactly 10:28:34 pm Moscow time, world's first artificial satellite named Sputnik 1 lifted off the launch pad from Baikonur Cosmodrome, a spaceport located in an area of southern Kazhakistan leased to Russia and placed the artificial "moon" into an orbit a few minutes later.





The emergence of the United States as the dominant power in space was sealed with Neil Armstrong being the first human to walk on the Moon on July 21, 1969. The Moon landings were followed by the Space Shuttle program which was launched by then-President Richard Nixon on January 5, 1972.





ECONOMIC BENEFITS

The current race to space is more for economic gain than for national prestige.


1)The Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology has identified three elements that make the Moon an attractive location for mining and the extraction of wealth.


2)The presence of Water is beneficial as it will not be necessary to lift water from the Earth to the Moon. If water were not present, and since the cost of lifting water would be prohibitive, an all lunar colony would not be possible .


3)Rare Earth Metals (REM) are present in great quantities on the Moon so it makes mining in Moon a reality. REMs are used for the manufacture of cell phones, batteries for electric cars, military equipment and much more.


4)Titanium is also present on the Moon in great quantities.





NEW RIVALS


CHINA


Chinese government has been pursuing an aggressive program to achieve dominance in the race to establish dominance on the Moon. This push began on October 24, 2007, with launch of ChangE 1.

Helium-3 was the primary metal Chang’e 1 was looking for, it was also mapping for rare earth metals and the mineral titanium.


Chang’e 2, was launched in 2010, which not only orbited the Moon but after its mapping mission was over was placed in a Lagrangian point orbit around the moon around the Moon.

This orbit allows the Chang’e 2 orbiter to hover in space in perfect balance between the gravitational pull between the Earth and the Moon. In essence, it can function as a stationary communications satellite for other Chang’e Moon missions when these missions are in orbit around the Moon and the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA).


The Chang’e 3 mission was to have a lander successfully make a soft landing on the Moon and deploy a rover, which was accomplished in December of 2013.


The current Chinese mission on the Moon, Chang’e 4 has taken all the previous missions’ experience and successfully landed on the far side of the Moon. It has a one-year mission to map the surface of the far side of the Moon for the richest beds of helium-3.

China National Space Administration (CNSA) plans to launch Chang'e 5 and 6 by 2023. Chang'e 5 and 6 will be Moon landers/rovers and return missions.






INDIA

for years, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), slowly and steadily, has been taking India forward in the space race. The space agency hit a milestone with Chandrayaan-1 and now ISRO is set to make history yet again with the Chandrayaan-2 mission.


Chandrayaan-1 was launched by India's Polar Satellite launch Vehicle -- PSLV-C11 -- on October 22, 2008 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.


Chandrayaan-1 conclusively discovered traces of water on the Moon. This was a path-breaking discovery. Chandrayaan-1 also discovered water ice in the north polar region of the Moon. It also detected magnesium, aluminium and silicon on the lunar surface. Global imaging of the Moon is another achievement of Chandrayaan-1 mission.


Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched Chandrayaan 2 on July 22, 2019. The moon landing is expected in the early hours of September 07, 2019. With the successful landing India will become the fourth nation to land a Moon mission. Chandrayaan-2 aims to widen the scientific objectives of Chandrayaan-1 by way of soft landing on the Moon and deploying a rover to study the lunar surface.


India has planned Chandrayaan 3 for 2024. Chandrayaan 3 will be a collaborative effort of ISRO and JAXA which will again send a Moon rover and a lander.


Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) now has it's eyes on the Sun with solar mission Aditya-L1 in the pipeline. ISRO has planned to launch the mission during the first half of 2020.


Aditya-L1 is meant to observe the Sun’s corona. It will image and study the sun from the First Lagrange point also known as L1 Lagrange point.


L1 point is 1.5 million kilometres away from the Earth. It is a point where the gravitational forces of the

Earth and the Sun cancel out allowing the spacecraft to hover.


This will be India's first solar probe.





JAPAN


Japan is nurturiing Asian entrepreneurs for edge in new space race with the help of its own deep-pocketed space entrepreneurs. Ambitious start-up ispace said that it has raised 10.2 billion yen ($90.2 million) in series A funding to develop a lunar lander and two lunar missions to bring Earth-based marketing to the rocky satellite in just over two years. By 2040, the company foresee a resident lunar population of 1,000 people with a bustling tourist industry of 10,000 visitors annually.


KOREA

Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) has planned Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) a Moon orbiter to be launched by 2020.


BILLIONARE SPACE RACE

South-African-Canadian-American billionaire Elon Musk behind SpaceX and a project to colonize Mars.


American billionaire Jeff Bezos, behind Blue Origin and establishing a true industrial base in space.


American billionaire Paul G. Allen,behind Vulcan Aerospace and reducing the cost to launch payloads to orbit.


British billionaire Richard Branson, behind Virgin Galactic/Virgin Orbit and space tourism, low-cost small orbital launchers, and intercontinental suborbital transit.


Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, backing the Breakthrough Starshot project for an interstellar probe.




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