With Moon missions fascinating humanity again, the Time covered its new issue with those rushing to the Earth’s satellite. But it seems that politics got the better of the magazine, as only the US and China made it to the cover.
Known for its impactful covers, the magazine decided to remake its iconic “Race to the Moon” cover from 1968 for its July 29 issue. The original came out half a year after NASA announced the success of the Apollo 11 mission and featured an American astronaut and a Soviet cosmonaut running through space at full speed towards the Moon.
The fresh cover had the same composition, only the lunar conquerors became a bit chubbier and their numbers doubled. According to the Time, those racing for the Moon in 2019 are the Chinese and the Americans, the latter represented by NASA and two private companies, SpaceX and Blue Origin.
The magazine’s headlining article “The Next Space Race” by Jeffrey Kluger insisted that China’s Lunar program is now “most critically” in competition with the US space agency and billionaires.
The assertion has certainly raised some eyebrows at Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, which has been actively working on a Moon project of its own for years. The program will utilize the next-generation spacecraft Federatsiya (Federation), currently being developed, and includes an orbital Moon station and several unmanned missions to the satellite over the next decade, with an eye toward the first Russian cosmonauts setting foot on its surface in 2030.
Roscosmos expects a full-scale Russian base to be established on the Moon between 2036 and 2040. It would include modules with life support systems and radiation protection for the people staying there, means to monitor the Earth and space, and units for processing lunar matter and carrying out other experiments.
Roscosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin was quick to react to the magazine’s cover by reposting a cartoon of his own, showing a man sleepwalking on a treadmill placed atop a house with the full moon above. “A group of lunar enthusiasts, according to the Time,” Rogozin wrote, apparently mocking not just the outlet, but also some of Russia’s rivals in space.
US Vice President Mike Pence said in March that American astronauts should return to the Moon in 2024 “by any means necessary.” China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced plans to send its spacemen to Earth’s satellite and establish a base there during the next 10 years. The statements, while sounding more ambitious that those coming from Moscow, are yet to be backed by actual missions.
Notably, India is also set to join the Moon landing club in the near future as its unmanned mission that includes an orbiter, lander and rover is on its way to the Moon’s South Pole following the successful launch of the Chandrayaan-2 rocket on Monday.
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