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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs