News / Asia

Chinese Lunar Landing Prompts Debate About Moon Exploitation

Chinese Lunar Landing Prompts Debate Over Moon Exploitationi
X
January 15, 2014 11:47 PM
China's successful landing of an unmanned probe on the moon last month has prompted a debate over the potential exploitation of the moon’s resources - and who exactly owns the Earth’s only natural satellite. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London
Henry Ridgwell
Last month, China successfully landed an unmanned probe on the Moon.  The mission renewed a debate about the potential exploitation of the Moon’s resources and who exactly owns the Earth’s only natural satellite.  

China’s Chang’e 3 mission was the first so-called soft lunar landing in 37 years.  The spacecraft carried a solar-powered buggy called Jade Rabbit, which is digging the Moon’s surface and conducting geological surveys.

Deputy Chief Designer of the probe, Jia Yang, is excited about what lies ahead.
 
He explained that Jade Rabbit is now heading to the west, towards a pyramid-like rock which has a different shape from others.  It could be part of a meteorite, he adds.
 
Prior to the mission, Chinese scientists described the Moon as being a potential source of minerals.  Currently, no one can claim ownership of the Moon, says Planetary Science Professor Ian Crawford, of Birkbeck College University of London.
 
“The legal status of the Moon is governed by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, Article 2 of which specifically prohibits nation states from appropriating the Moon," said Crawford.
 
Back in 1967, the Treaty envisaged that only nation states would have the capacity to launch such missions.  Professor Crawford says it is time the Treaty was updated.
 
“Within the next few decades the economic exploitation of the Moon will be technically feasible," said Crawford. "Even if there are not minerals to be extracted, the space tourism industry is gathering a lot of momentum so one might imagine interest in sending people to the Moon as just fare-paying passengers.  None of this is currently covered by the 1967 Treaty.”

Almost 22 kilometers (71,000 feet) above the Mojave desert in California, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo made its third powered supersonic test flight last week.  The company plans to take its first fare-paying passengers into space this summer.

As interest in space exploration heats up, a provocative London exhibition titled ‘Republic of the Moon’ explores the concept of lunar ownership.
 
One of the pieces, by artist Katie Paterson, involves the classical composition "Moonlight Sonata" by Beethoven being translated into Morse code.  The signal is bounced off the surface of the Moon back to Earth -- where it is performed on a self-playing grand piano.  The Moon’s craters absorb and disrupt the signal.
 
“We had this idea that the Republic of the Moon would be in a sense an imaginary country," said curator of the exhibition Rob La Frenais. "But all the artists in Republic of the Moon have got their own individual reflections on what the Moon means to them.”
 
The Chinese lunar landing may have sparked a debate over the future exploitation of the Moon, but scientists agree the mission marks an exciting new chapter in the exploration of space.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid