China Seen Beating United States In Manned Mission To The Moon
When U.S. astronauts next set foot on the moon, they likely will be following Chinese taikonauts there, an aerospace leader predicted.
Marion Blakey, the Aerospace Industries Association president and CEO, said an accelerated U.S. lunar program to beat the Chinese to the pale orb also could serve an earthly purpose of stimulating the recession-wracked U.S. economy.
The American public won’t be happy if the United States is humbled in space, she cautioned.
She spoke at the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit.
Currently, China has completed three manned missions into space, including an initial spacewalk. China also has formidable military and commercial rocket capabilities. It is estimated to be aiming for a manned lunar surface mission before the end of the next decade.
NASA is aiming for a manned lunar surface mission by 2020, assuming that the next-generation Orion-Ares U.S. spacecraft and rocket can be developed and launch an initial manned mission on schedule, in March 2015.
With $1 billion or more in extra funds, that might be slipped back to September 2014, making a 2020 lunar mission more likely.