Space colonization and ambition in the final frontier are nothing new. The first time humans launched an artificial satellite into space was in 1957 with the USSR's Sputnik, triggering the so-called "Space Race" between the US and the USSR, which occurred alongside the Cold War. The USSR also launched the first dog and human into space. Not to be outdone, in 1969, the US was able to land a man on the moon – three men, actually (Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins). Many people say that by getting a man to the moon first, the US "won" the Space Race.
But, as China becomes more technologically advanced, a new Space Race era could be upon us, this time between the US and China. Last year, the two countries saw increased tensions over a number of issues. And NASA is worried that China could eventually claim some of the moon's resource-rich areas. NASA's administrator, Bill Nelson, a former astronaut and Florida senator, says that the next two years could determine who gets the true advantage in outer space.
Just last year, China launched the Shenzhou mission from the Gobi Desert to complete work on a space station. Plus, China isn't a member of the International Space Station. So, it now has its own – the Tiangong Space Station.
In an interview with Politico, Nelson said, "It is a fact: we're in a space race. And it is true that we better watch out that they don't get to a place on the moon under the guise of scientific research. And it is not beyond the realm of possibility that they say, 'Keep out, we're here, this is our territory.'"
But, China doesn’t agree with the US’ comments. "Outer space is not a wrestling ground," said Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, to Politico. "China always advocates the peaceful use of outer space, opposes the weaponization of and arms race in outer space, and works actively toward building a community with a shared future for mankind in the space domain."
In 2021, Chinese lunar engineer Ye Peijian said the country could have "boots on the moon" before 2030. At the same time, NASA's Artemis mission is running a bit behind schedule. Its goal is to get someone back on the moon by 2025, but it could need more time. But, last month, it did finish up a 1.4-million-mile mission to the moon and back, which is a sign of momentum.