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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The moon? Been there, done that

    President John F. Kennedy declared in 1961 that by the end of the decade, Americans would set foot on the moon. On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon and accomplished that goal.

    Chinese officials declared in late December 2011 that by the end of the decade, Chinese would set foot on the moon.

    If they went there, the initial reaction of most Americans would probably be, “Been there, done that.” While the moon does lack diversity — only Americans and Russians have been there — China could probably do something better.

    China may be 40 years behind our space program, but the speed at which it has advanced is pretty remarkable. In 2008, China sent three astronauts on a spacewalk, then successfully docked two unmanned spacecraft in orbit.

    Granted, the missions aren’t very exciting. It’s not like China will put a giant wall around its flag on the moon that we could see from Earth. But, while Americans have been carpooling space shuttles with Russians, China has created a well-financed and quickly advancing space program.

    Americans are still the leaders in space. The U.S., with some help from the UA, has had some successful missions sending devices to Mars, and is seeking more knowledge about the rest of the universe with projects such as landing devices on asteroids. So, really, the U.S. should treat China’s space program as if it’s like a little brother taking his first steps. It’s pretty adorable.
    But what if that adorable little brother gets better, farther and faster than the U.S.?

    With each new political wave that washes over Washington, D.C., the space program gets questioned. Without the need to one-up the communists, politicians have little interest in space. Space won’t get them re-elected, and a manned flight to Mars costs at least $500 billion, so investing a lot of money into the program is not on the top of the political to-do list.

    Space may not seem like the best place to make technological advancements, but since the Cold War, an excelling space program has served as a symbol of the most powerful country in the world.

    When a country is powerful enough that it can invest money on programs out of this world, it says a lot about its standing. And the fact that the U.S. can’t afford its space program right now is telling of how far it has fallen. America has to bum rides from Russia to get into orbit, and China just bought a brand new vehicle.

    China’s rapid development of its space program indicates that it is making the technological advancements that the U.S. no longer can. While the Chinese explore space and new technology, Americans are left digging around for spare change to fund bombs and missiles. The U.S. should start worrying about being left in the space dust.

    — Dan Desrochers is a chemistry freshman. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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