U.S. Losing Lunar Legacy to Foreign Countries
Not only has the federal government been subsidizing private companies like SpaceX to learn to do what NASA was already doing, but now an American company with plans to begin lunar expeditions as early as 2015 has moved its facilities to the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom because of the isle’s support for aerospace companies and low business taxes.
Representatives of the company, Excalibur Almaz, say it will be able to take paying customers on a six- to eight-month deep space expedition for 100 million pounds.
Using existing Russian technology, the company plans to cram three astronauts into a capsule that will launch from Earth and link up with a space station. From there, another vehicle will take the travelers to the moon.
Excalibur Almaz will be able to take its customers much deeper into space than rivals such as Virgin Galactic plan to do. There are other companies working on lunar flights, but none with a target date as early as 2015.
China is also working to get astronauts on the moon within the decade. And with NASA now out of the lunar biz, China could wind up being the first country to establish a permanent presence on the moon.
Even putting aside the sting to American pride, such a development could pose a commercial and national security threat the likes of which we’ve never seen. The full potential of resources found on the moon is unknown, but seems to be highly lucrative. The potential for developing devastating weapons technology in a place we would have great difficulty monitoring is even higher.
When Neil Armstrong uttered the words “one giant leap for mankind,” who would have thought then that it would one day be mankind going to the moon without America leading the way?
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