I’ve commented recently about how a lunar free-for-all seems to be underway, with numerous countries announcing plans (or wishes) to make their way to the Moon. I came across an interesting article at The Space Review which discusses this topic in a critical manner, titled “Exploding Moon Myths: Or why there’s no race to our nearest neighbour.”
Germany recently announced that they possibly, maybe, might launch a robotic spacecraft to the Moon. That now brings to six the number of countries with spacecraft at the Moon in development to go to the Moon, or at the very least thinking about sending a spacecraft to the Moon. The others are: China, Japan, India, the United States, and the Russians (who have lots of plans, along with an official motto: “Please send money.”)
Just what the heck is going on?
The lay press, which has only a superficial understanding of space issues, has taken notice of all this space activity and struggled to understand it. They have reached for explanations, and in the process produced several erroneous theories based upon poor understanding both of what is currently happening, and what has happened in the past regarding exploration of the Moon.
The article covers theories ranging from a ‘Lunar goldrush’ in search of Helium-3, through to Richard Hoagland’s ‘glass cities‘ on the Moon. In the end though, the article says the simple reason for the new international rush to the Moon is “because these countries have recently acquired the capability to go beyond Earth orbit, and the Moon is the closest — and therefore easiest — target beyond Earth orbit. That’s it. It’s that simple.”