It isn’t just that Newt Gingrich wants us to go back to the moon or that he wants to set up a colony there. He is thinking that when the population of the lunar colony reaches 13,000 the moon could apply for statehood. Yes the notion is crazy, absurd, and inappropriate. But imagine! The moon as the USA’s 51st state! Think how indignant the rest of the world would be, looking up in the night sky and seeing America.
China, the new America:
China has declared its intention to land an astronaut on the moon, in the first official confirmation of its aim to go where Americans last set foot nearly 40 years ago.
While Chinese scientists have previously discussed the possibility of a manned lunar mission, a government white paper published on Thursday is the first public government document to enshrine it as a policy goal.
China will “conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing”, the white paper said.
Although a manned moon mission is still some time off – Chinese experts say after 2020 – the statement highlights Beijing’s soaring ambitions just five months after the US retired its space shuttle programme . “Chinese people are the same as people around the world,” Zhang Wei, an official with China’s National Space Administration, said at a briefing. “When looking up at the starry sky, we are full of longing and yearning for the vast universe.”
According to the white paper, which serves as a blueprint for the next five years, China will develop new satellites, accelerate efforts to build a space station and strengthen its research in space. Laying the foundation for a mission to the moon, the government also plans to launch unmanned lunar probes and make “new technological breakthroughs” in human space flights by 2016.
Remember when we used to have grand ambitions like that, thinking we could do anything and then doing it? Our last manned moon landing was in 1972. Back then we were in a competition with the Soviets in a “space race.” As the new and improved version of communism that China has devised outperforms us economically, I doubt that we will even care if China takes up where we left off in outer space. For better or worse, we don’t have the same energy and optimism that we used to have. Evidently, China has it.
July 20 was the 41st anniversary of a human being landing on the moon. The tiny spacecraft was guided by computers with far less capability than the one you are using to read this blog. “One small step for a man,” said Neil Armstrong, “one giant leap for mankind.” Was it really? Watch the video of that dramatic 1969 telecast. (If it isn’t appearing in your browser, click “comments.”)