China’s Plan to Conquer the Moon, Mars and More | WSJ

– Every two years,there’s a critical window to go to Mars. This summer, the planets alignedso that a spacecraft can get therewith the least amount of fuel. NASA is sending its ninth spacecraftto the red planet’s surfaceand other nations are trying to go too. One is China, which is launching
its first solo expedition. Aiming to send in one go,as much equipment as the
U. S. did in several missionsto potentially find evidence
of past or present life. – That’s a whole lot of steps at once. China will really have made a
stand for their space agencyand for their country. – We’re in a space race today
just as we were in the 1960s. And the stakes are even higher. – The U. S.
and China are contendersfor science, profit, and
pride beyond the stratosphere. And China has made a lot of progress. Since 2018, it has sent more rocketsthan any other countryand has become the second biggest spenderin space programs behind the U. S. Here’s what China is aiming for in spaceand how those plans can challenge the U. S. – In China, since
you have a continuanceof a Communist Party of China,its ability to focus on
one mission spans 10 years. – Namrata Goswami
analyzes space programsin China and the U. S. She says China’s space
program’s greatest advantageis that once the single
party government setsa longterm goal, plans
are unlikely to change. For instance, China is scheduledto set up mankind’s first
permanent lunar base in 2036. Experts say China envisions the moonbecoming a sort of pit
stop and gas station,charging other countries
to refuel spacecraftsthat need to reach farther destinations. Meanwhile, NASA, Congress,and the wider space community
have debated for decades,whether to refocus on the moon. – In the U. S. the problem isthat you have a change in perspective,with the change in administration. Obama said that we do not need
to go to the moon anymore. – We’ve been there before. – Suddenly you have
Trump come in and he arguesthat no, we need to go back to the moon. It’s the moon to Mars. – Well, the
debate continues in the U. S. ,China is breaking new ground. It landed a robotic exploreron the moon’s far side last year. Something no other country
has ever done before. – The first step is the moon. China want to make this step very solid. And to build our ability
and to get good technologyand that we can go farther. – Long Xiao says
China’s Chang’e 5 probe launchlater this year could return
lunar samples to earthand help advance researchinto turning them into rocket fuel. – The United States is still talkingabout getting somewhere first in space,showing off new technology. – The first woman, and
the next man on the moonwill both be American astronauts,launched by American
rockets from American soil. – But the one
advantage the U. S. may haveis a number of collaborations between NASAand private space companies ledby high profile billionaires. The space agency has signed
billion dollar partnershipsto do things like sending NASA astronautsand space tourists into orbit. – We have all these rich
guys, they love rockets. – Space experts
say the pooling of moneyand brains from various
companies and universities iswhat makes the U. S. program so special. As of today, the U. S.
remains a model for China,which is actually learning
from NASA’s legacy and space. Still. – The little one, just to learn from usthat we want to contribute
to our new knowledgeto the human being. This is also,I think the some kind
form of national pride. – In recent years,China has surpassed the West in areaslike 5G and quantum encryption. Technology that experts saycould accelerate China’s space progress. But Xiao says China has had
its fair share of failures. Almost a decade ago,the country’s first orbiter
to Mars had to hitch a rideoff a Russian rocket
and never made it there. This summer, Tianzhou 1
will demonstrate technologythat NASA is also rolling
out for the first time,a radar mounted on top of the Roverto detect subsurface water. But there’s one big difference. While NASA is partnering with
the European Space Agencyto bring back the Martian
soil and rock samplesto earth in 2026,China is doing it solo, and
it’s not necessarily a choice. NASA has never worked with Chinabecause of national security concern. The U. S. barred Chinese astronautsfrom entering the
International Space Stationand excluded China from
being part of the Gateway,a moon orbiting space station. – There’s not a good
thing about the tensionbetween China and the United States,but I understand it to
share the technologyis harder for any country. – So instead, China has plannedits own Mars’ sample
return mission in 2028,not far from the NASA and ISA timeline. – The U. S. does not seem to realizethat because it ban any
kind of space collaborationbetween the U. S. and China,China develop its own indigenous capacity. So they turned a disadvantage
into an advantage. – In the long term,some scientists from both
the U. S. and China have saidthey hope cooperation will
help share costs and expertise. – For science, we hopewe can share scientific
resource, exploration data,and that will allow
scientists to work together.

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