Five decades after the Apollo 11 moon landing gave the U.S. victory over the Soviet Union in the space race, a new struggle for extraterrestrial supremacy is gaining momentum. This time, the challenger is China, reigniting fears about the potential militarization of space. But this off-planet rivalry also promises a commercial and technological boom with potentially huge benefits for humanity. Expansion to the stars — no matter by which country — should be welcomed, facilitated, and funded by the U.S. and other governments.
The pace of change is potentially enormous. It is worth recalling that less than nine years passed between U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s undertaking to put Americans on the moon and the Apollo 11 mission that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin there on July 20, 1969. Five further moon landings confirmed U.S. dominance of crewed spaceflight, raising the number of humans who have stood on the moon to 12.