NASA chief says U.S. will beat China in race to the moon

Bill Nelson criticizes Beijing for being opaque and hails Japan as a collaborator.

The administrator of NASA anticipates that American astronauts will land on the moon before their Chinese colleagues in 2025 or 2026 as the competition between the two countries to get there increases.

“Very few countries do not wish to work with us as partners. One is China. China has traditionally kept a lot of secrets “Regarding Beijing’s position on creating its own lunar mission, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated in an interview with Nikkei. “I believe China is ahead of us in the race.”

Nelson expressed disappointment with the Chinese space program’s secrecy, noting an episode from the previous year in which the majority of the globe was left in the dark as to where rocket launch debris would fall.

“The second one was uncertain as to whether it would strike Saudi Arabia or Europe. Thankfully, it landed in the Indian Ocean, and China refused to inform anybody or us of its course “explained he. “We don’t agree with that view,”

“We believe that the civilian space program should be transparent and open. And that in an emergency, we should… assist one another. China just hasn’t wanted to be transparent about its space program.”

For the first time since the 1970s, the United States is preparing a crewed lunar probe. The Space Launch System (SLS), NASA’s next-generation moon rocket, was launched in mid-November with an unmanned Orion capsule, which is scheduled to land on Sunday.

Although there were no people on board for this test, NASA has chosen Space X to create a craft that will enable astronauts to arrive on the moon in 2025 or later. Astronauts will explore Mars using the moon as a base as part of the Artemis mission.

Nelson said, “I think we will,” when asked if the United States and its allies will surpass China to the moon. By 2030, China wants to send astronauts to the moon.

“That’s also crucial, in my opinion, since becoming the first to return to the moon with humans will be a noteworthy accomplishment. China, in my opinion, would also prefer to do that “said he.

“If our program and commercial lander are successful, I believe we will be able to reach there…sometime in 2025, perhaps 2026,” said the scientist.
The U.S. must work with other countries since the Artemis program necessitates cutting-edge technology and has a high price tag ($4 billion for each rocket launch).

“One of our most reliable and esteemed partners is Japan. Additionally, the Biden administration and the Japanese government place a high importance on this connection “Nelson said.

The United States and Japan are discussing a framework that would enable the two nations to work together on a range of space initiatives, including research and launching spacecraft. Once both parties acquiesce to the structure, collaboration is anticipated to increase.

He mentioned a future trip to Japan, saying, “We’re hoping the signing [of the framework agreement] may happen in February when I’m there.”

To build a lunar rover that humans can operate, Toyota Motor and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are collaborating.

I’m heading to the factory that will make this rover, so once I go there, I’ll learn a lot more, Nelson added.

The Gateway space station, which will circle the moon, is one of the Artemis program’s goals. A Japanese astronaut will be stationed there, as is previously agreed.

Nelson commended Japanese technology and the part the nation had in providing the station with supplies including life support systems.

Without specifying a timeframe, he indicated that a Japanese astronaut will set foot on the moon “after we get to a stage of working [the livable rover] out.”

In terms of the space partnership with Russia, “Everything locally altered as a result of the Ukraine war. No doubt, it strengthened Europe’s position against Russia. But it won’t alter the International Space Station’s collaboration, “Nelson remarked.

American astronauts were sent to the International Space Outpost by Russian Soyuz rockets, but Moscow has hinted that it may leave the station in the future.

“This partnership is ongoing. It is quite expert, “Nelson said.

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