The Next Space Race: Moon Bases, Mining, and Colonies

Russia has revealed that it plans to set up a Moon colony by the year 2040. (Image:  wikimedia /  CC0 1.0)
Russia has revealed that it plans to set up a Moon colony by the year 2040. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Russia has revealed that it plans to set up a Moon colony by the year 2040. With the U.S. and China also looking forward to setting up colonies on the Moon, experts believe that competition between these countries might just fuel the next space race.

Russian Moon colony

The Russian space agency Roscosmos will be spearheading the Moon colonization mission. The lunar program will be conducted in three stages. During the first stage, a module for orbiting the Moon will be sent. The second stage will see the launch of Russia’s first manned mission to the Moon. The construction of a long-term base on the surface is expected to start between 2025 and 2034. In the third phase, the base will be completed by 2040.

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The construction of a long-term base on the surface is expected to start between 2025 and 2034. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

According to Russian officials, the lunar programs will help fulfill national interests in space. “Moon exploration issues are now heading the agenda of our Space Council. The question is really serious… We understand our limited resources. The geopolitical situation is not conducive to attracting these resources,” Alexander Sergeyev, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in a statement (Daily Mail).

The document detailing the lunar program will be finalized by February next year. A telescope on the dark side of the moon might also be established as part of the lunar program. In 2014, a similar moon mission was envisaged by the space agency with the express aim of setting up a colony. Roscosmos had received hundreds of applications from astronauts who wished to be part of the team.

American Moon colonization plans

NASA is apparently working with nine private firms to develop robots capable of mining the Moon for natural resources. This is expected to help in developing the technology needed to colonize the Moon. According to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, America will set up a Moon base in less than 10 years.

Private companies in the U.S. are also interested in lunar programs. Blue Origin, the space exploration company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, is one such company that plans on setting up a base on the Moon very soon. Other firms in the race for Moon colonies include SpaceX, Masten Space Systems, and United Launch Alliance.

15 Things You Didn't Know About BLUE ORIGIN 1-3 screenshot

Private companies in the U.S., such as Blue Origin, the space exploration company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, are also interested in lunar programs. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

“The Earth is not a very good place to do heavy industry. It’s convenient for us right now, but in the not-too-distant future — I’m talking decades, maybe 100 years — it’ll start to be easier to do a lot of the things that we currently do on Earth in space, because we’ll have so much energy,” Bezos said to Geek Wire.

The Chinese interest

Given that China has big ambitions about their future expansion plans, it is no wonder that the country also has a long-term plan for Moon colonization. “We believe that the Chinese nation’s dream of residing in a ‘lunar palace’ will soon become a reality,” China’s National Space Administration said in a statement (The Telegraph).

Last year, Chinese officials said that they were conducting feasibility studies for a robotic outpost on the Moon’s surface. The outpost is expected to act as a base for scientific experiments. Experts believe that China will send a manned mission to the Moon after 2030. Though there is no official word on when the construction of the base will begin, China has declared that it will send a probe to the far side of the moon in 2019.

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