- Russia's war in Ukraine shows exactly where humanity is headed. Subsequent conflicts will increasingly occur in space
- World powers place high hopes on the moon, which – according to cautious forecasts – is rich in natural resources that will allow it to dominate the world.
- – If thermonuclear fusion can be mastered, the helium-3 isotope could be the energy solution for the entire Earth – explains Artur B. Chmilevsky, who works at NASA
- Tim Marshall, a world-famous British journalist and geostrategist, author of the book “The Future of Geography. How Politics in Space Will Change Our World,” tells Onet about the high stakes of the competition. -The Chinese say it is about 10,000 years old
- You can find more such articles on the Onet homepage
Who is fighting for control of the universe?
Tim Marshall divides the countries into three groups. There are three countries at the highest level of advancement when it comes to space exploration – United States and Chinaa Russia Right behind them. At the second level: Japan, the United Arab Emirates, France, Great Britain, and India.
However, everything indicates that India may be able to go some distance and start looking towards the top level, but there is still a long way to go to reach the top – says the Briton.
The third group consists of dozens of countries that “own satellites in space.” We are talking about about 80 countries. – The last level consists of more than 100 countries that do not exist in the universe and you will have enormous difficulties in determining their existence there at all, as we hear.
The war in Ukraine is only the beginning
According to the expert, the Russian war in Ukraine is evidence that the development of orbital capabilities also has a major impact on the fate and course of the invasion.
– Marshall explains.
In contrast, in the case of a large-scale Russian war in Ukraine, two sides actually benefit – the aggressor, that is, the Russians have had military resources in space for a long time, while the Ukrainians have bought or acquired space assets mainly from the Americans and the British. These are satellites, and therefore valuable information, including intelligence, etc.
Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 made internet access difficult throughout the country that Moscow attacked. Then the Ukrainian side made appeals for help from Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX, which is putting the Starlink communications system based on small satellites into low orbit. The goal is to provide high-speed internet everywhere on Earth. Eventually, approximately 12,000 satellites will be operational.
“The future of geography. How space policy will change our world” by Tim Marshall, published in Poland by Zysk i S-ka
Musk's regime played an indisputable role in defending Kiev against Russian attacks. However, the billionaire decided to limit Ukraine's ability to use this tool. According to experts, this could seriously reduce its defensive capabilities and lead to “catastrophic human losses.”
– When Ukraine was able to use Starlink satellites, the Russians tried to blind and confuse them by sending false information. This indicates that we are dealing with the first war in which both sides have resources in space and are trying to use them. This is a revolutionary moment because all future modern wars will be fought using this technology – says Marshall in an interview with Onet.
Exploring the moon. Hope for 10,000 years
One of the most prominent elements of the rivalry between the United States and China in the universe is lunar exploration. The United States wanted to send a manned mission to the moon at the end of this year, but was forced to postpone these plans. The current American Artemis space program (implemented by NASA and international partners such as ESA and ESA), which aims to send people to the Moon again in 2026, faces many problems – as Die Welt writes.
Beijing, in turn, celebrates victories and awaits more American failures. The Americans are now in danger of losing the space race to China, whose ambitions are so high that by 2030 they want to put astronauts (or rather cosmonauts, that is, Chinese astronauts) on the Earth's natural satellite.
All this to collect samples and conduct “scientific research”. If the plan succeeds, the group of astronauts will be part of a larger project aimed at creating a lunar research station.
China, which was very late in the race for space dominance, especially during the Cold War, has become increasingly involved in space exploration, along with its dynamic economic development. This was especially emphasized by the leader of the Middle Kingdom, Xi Jinping.
The Long March 2F launch vehicle takes off in northwest China's Gansu Province towards the Tiangong Space Station. There were three crew members of the Shenzhou-16 space mission on board the capsule on May 30, 2023.
The result of these activities was, for example, the creation of the company's Tiangong Space Station, which will be expanded from 2021. Its creation was also the result of legal restrictions, but primarily a result of political pressure on the part of the United States to exclude astronauts from the International Space Station ( ISS), which is scheduled to cease operations in 2030.
Why do the superpowers' eyes turn to the moon? It is primarily about natural raw materials. —We have high hopes for water. During one mission, we proved that there are large amounts of water on the Moon, which we had no idea about before. We do not yet know whether its counterpart is identical to the counterpart found on Earth or not. Arthur B. says: Chmielewski, a Polish scientist working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), one of NASA's research centers, told Onet.
In the future, we will use the Moon for all interplanetary missions.
– explains Chmilevsky.
“Getting off the moon will be much easier because the spacecraft doesn't have to be built like a fortress of steel, aluminum or titanium,” he says. — Today, the ship must first survive launch and the first 5-7 seven minutes of flight through the atmosphere. Currently, spacecraft that fly for many years to their destination are primarily designed to survive the first minutes of flight, while the next ten years or so in a vacuum are easier. Rocket fuel can consist of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. These are the components of water, and its components can be separated. This is also why water is important, because it can be turned into fuel, we hear.
What other raw materials can we find on the moon? Today, we mainly talk about titanium, gold, platinum and helium-3. Helium-3 in particular represents great promise, Chmielewski says. If thermonuclear fusion can be mastered, helium-3 could be the energy solution for the entire Earth. The energy produced will be clean, without greenhouse gases or radioactive waste. Then we wouldn't have to have nuclear power, or hectares of solar panels, etc.
Tim Marshall, in turn, adds that “The Chinese argue that there are enough helium-3 isotopes on the Moon to provide us with enough energy for the next 10,000 years after thermonuclear fusion is perfected.”. -Who doesn't want that? So it's clear that we need to at least keep our finger on the pulse of what we hear.
Legal problems along the way
The Outer Space Treaty was signed by the Soviet Union, the United States of America and Great Britain in 1967. The signatories committed, among other things, to: Not to place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in Earth orbit, on the Moon or elsewhere In outer space it can only be used for peaceful purposes.
In contrast, the use and exploration of space is in the “interest of all countries.” Today, 110 countries, including Poland, have signed the agreement.
In the face of US-China rivalry, aggressive Russian policy, and India and Japan's aggressive space activities, it is difficult to assume that regulations that were in place less than sixty years ago match today's reality..
-There were much fewer commercial reasons to be in space. It was easy for everyone to reach an agreement. Now these so-called laws are treated as guidelines, says Tim Marshall.
As an example, he cited NASA, which “is willing to buy several moon rocks from a commercial company for $1.” — A commercial company wants to go to the moon to get some rocks and bring them back and sell them for $1. Why? Because then both the company and NASA are setting a standard or trying to set a standard by which we can take something and then we can sell it. Marshall concludes that this is an example of how general agreement that space cannot be seized and destroyed on a large scale is now being downplayed.
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