Has the U.S. already lost the new space race?

The director of NASA predicts that China will place astronauts on the moon before the U.S. can put someone on the moon for the first time since 1973.

From CNN.com: NASA chief: China will beat us back to the moon

The Soviets beat the United States at getting a satellite, and a man, into space. Now, the Chinese may get to the moon before the U.S. can make a return visit.

Fifty years after Sputnik became the world’s first artificial satellite, a new race is under way with the finish line on the moon. NASA, the former lunar champion, already is predicting defeat.

“I personally believe that China will be back on the moon before we are,” NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said in a low-key lecture in Washington two weeks ago, marking the space agency’s 50th anniversary, still a year away.

NASA’s goal is to return humans to the moon by 2020.

Some thoughts:

  • NASA and U.S. priorities should not be driven only by a need to be first in everything.
  • At the same time, we need to make sure we don’t fall behind in important technologies.
  • We need to have a very-long term perspective on space exploration. In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue; but it took another 500 years to really explore the New World.

Some questions:

  • What difference would it make if the Chinese get to the moon before the U.S. returns?
  • What should America’s priorities in space be?

Grace and Peace

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