FPI / September 2, 2021
By Richard Fisher
For the United States and China it is not enough simply to send people to the Moon, they must be supported by a network of lunar satellites to assure constant, reliable communication, navigation and very likely, surveillance.
In the United States the Biden Administration is trying to maintain the schedule set by the Trump Administration of putting U.S. astronauts on the Moon by 2024.
On the weekend of Aug. 28, senior Chinese rocket scientist/spokesman Long Lehao affirmed the Chinese goal to put Chinese on the Moon by 2030, though it is likely this schedule will be advanced.
Both China and the United States plan to build multiple manned bases on the Moon to advance scientific research and to exploit resources on the Moon to facilitate lunar or space construction programs and produce fuels to support space travel to Mars.
The Japanese company Ispace projects that by 2040, one thousand people could be living on the Moon with 10,000 visiting annually.
To support their respective presence on the Moon, both the U.S. and China are planning to loft satellite networks around the Moon.
In mid-July the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory awarded Masten Space Systems a contract “to develop and demonstrate a lunar positioning and navigation network prototype.”
A July 13 Masten press release explained, “With functionality similar to a Global Positioning System (GPS), the network will enhance cislunar security and awareness by enabling navigation and location tracking for spacecraft, assets, objects, and future astronauts on the lunar surface or in lunar orbit. As the lunar ecosystem grows, the network will also help advance lunar science and resource utilization by improving landing accuracy and hazard avoidance near critical lunar sites.”
China has a head start.
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