Things You Should Know But Don’t: The Other Race to Watch

Posted June 10, 2024

The contest for the White House isn’t the only race that should concern the United States and, perhaps, the world. There’s another race with profound consequences for the U.S., and it’s a race the U.S. is losing: The Space Race.

On June 1st, NASA once again aborted a manned launch of its much-touted Boeing-manufactured Starliner spacecraft, a critical vehicle in America’s space program and one that cost NASA more than $4 billion. Reports indicate it was yet another technical problem that dictated scrubbing the mission just minutes before it was scheduled to fly. At least the third time proved the charm and the Starliner successfully launched on the morning of June 5th, a month later than planned.

Meanwhile, on June 2nd, China’s Chang’e-6 lunar probe successfully landed on the far side of the Moon. No other country has accomplished that feat. It is an achievement possible only through the highest levels of technology and automation that overcome the near impossibility of communicating with anything hidden behind the Moon, including a spacecraft. America can’t get a rocket off the ground, while China has landed two on the Moon. Like the first one that China landed, the Chang’e-6 is set to return to Earth in a few weeks with samples it collected during its visit. The last time the U.S. brought anything back from the Moon was over fifty years ago.

What is the mystery of the far side of the Moon?  The Moon’s tidal-locked synchronous rotation allows us to see only one side – the near side – a side scientists believe is very different than the far side. The Moon’s far side is unprotected from meteors and is the site of what is considered the largest impact of a meteor in the history of our solar system. This impact may reveal the composition of the core of the Moon, secrets about the Moon’s origin, and possibly some about the Earth’s own history. That’s where Chang’e-6 landed. However, there is another reason the far side fascinates China.

It is rich in raw earth minerals, including the Changesite-(Y), a newly discovered crystalline found only in lunar soil. It contains traces of helium-3, a fuel source in limited supply on Earth. Just 40 grams of helium-3 is equivalent to 5,000 tons of coal!  It is also fuel for potential use in nuclear fusion power plants.

Aside from Changesite-(Y), the Moon is rich in rare earth elements like scandium and yttrium, which are essential in electronics and military technology. China already controls the market for those and other critical rare earth metals like lithium, cobalt, and nickel. So the Moon is a strategic bonanza for the nation that mines it first.

And the far side of the Moon has water. Water that can help support colonization and infrastructure for a launching pad to Mars and beyond. All amidst the secrecy of the side of the Moon we never see.

China’s missions to the Moon can hardly be described as altruistic. As many experts have repeatedly said, the U.S. is far behind in exploiting our nearest neighbor while it sits in the bleachers watching China win the game. A game of critical importance to our future.

If you’re curious about what this could all mean, read my novel, Dragon on the Far Side of the Moon. It’s a fictional story that eerily gets closer to the truth as we watch history unfold.

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