Friday , April 16 2021

With this rocket, China will collect a piece of the moon – but is that allowed?

Chang’e-5 started tonight. Named after a Chinese moon goddess, the drone is the epitome of China’s space ambitions. At the end of 2018, the earth has already left an impression with a unique landing on the back of the Moon.

The Moon then delivered potatoes and flower seeds. Now the Chinese want to take part of the moon with them. “There is a possibility that they will find valuable minerals there,” said Frans von der Dunk. He reveals that, says the professor of space law, he could give China an even more prominent role in space.

Waving on the Moon

“If all this succeeds, because it is still a matter of space travel, they will take a big step towards the next two goals,” explains von der Dunk. “It is primarily the extraction of more raw materials. “It can be done with robots, but China is also working on plans to make the manned lunar mission as successful as the United States.”

And just like big trade parties like Elon Musk’s company, the Chinese view extends beyond the moon. For example, in the missions of the planet Mars. According to the professor, the Moon plays a key role in those plans. And especially possible departure from the Moon to Mars.

“Just think of gravity. On the moon, it’s only one-sixth the gravity with us on Earth. That means it only takes one-sixth of the energy to launch rockets and other vessels. It offers great potential.”

Settlements on the Moon

But in order to leave the moon, we must first create a sustainable way of life. And that makes Chinese research on raw materials so important. “This can be used to study whether possible lunar settlements could be self-sufficient.” “Because it is commercially impossible if you have to record everything you need there.”

But who owns the other planets in our universe, and thus the raw materials of those celestial bodies? And, can you just blast those raw materials and bring them back to Earth? Can anyone who wants to build and settle there?

These are the questions that von der Dunk has been dealing with for years. Most of them were enshrined in the 1967 Space Treaty, but since only countries signed the treaty, some private individuals saw the opportunity to claim planets themselves.

Earned millions

Dennis Hope, for example, wrote a letter to the United Nations claiming the planets. With no response or notification of the complaint, Hope has since claimed ownership. It became the work of his life. Hope sells pieces of “his” moon for $ 25 to $ 500 each.

“It’s legal shit,” said the space law professor. “The US government can never respect this. “When someone in the United States goes to court with such a certificate to ask others to stay out of ‘his’ piece of land, that person will be disappointed.”

Hope may have misrepresented planets, but the American is said to have made millions selling the planet. Because Mars, Mercury and Venus are also sold by Hope. And Pluto is for sale in its entirety. For $ 250,000, he said the planet would be yours.

American flag

According to the professor, the Chinese mission intensifies the discussion about what may or may not happen on the moon. “The moon does not belong to anyone, and therefore to everyone. As a result, there are absolute limits to what countries on other planets can and can do.

Something that became clear, for example, in 1969 during a successful American manned moon mission. For example, according to von der Dunk, the United States has emphasized that hoisting the American flag is a symbolic act of pride.

China will not be the first country to return empty-handed from its lunar mission. During the manned landing on the Moon between 1969 and 1972, America delivered to Earth no less than 382 kg of raw materials.

The then Soviet Union was also very interested in what could be found on the moon. But because they came out only with unmanned moons, the yield was much lower: 326 grams, divided into three landings on the moon.

To retain or share revenue?

After that space race in the 1960s and 1970s, countries lost interest in substances found on the moon. The focus, and thus the money, was spent on other things. But with the renewed interest in space power, the discussion about the use of that planet returns.

According to von der Dunk, these views can be divided into two schools of thought. “On the one hand, for example, you have Russians who say that because the Moon belongs to everyone, the substances and knowledge found should also be shared with everyone.

“On the other hand, you have countries like America who believe that the planets should be seen as the open sea on Earth. Just like the fish you catch there, money can be earned in space.”

So, the rules for using the Moon are in the gray zone. And according to the professor, it makes China a step even more interesting that it is doing now. “The United States has never seen the need to tighten the rules because they were the only country that could carry out such missions.


But just like on Earth, that American domination now seems to be leaning into space. “It makes it look like what happened in the ’50s and’ 60s.” At the time, America, for example, thought the Soviet Union was not going to make atomic bombs. “Now it can only happen that China unexpectedly makes very big steps.”

If all goes well, the pieces of the moon will be transported back to Earth in early December. The landing is scheduled for December 2 on a plain in central Mongolia, northern China.

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