At October the 24th 2007 China started it’s first mission to the moon. At November the 5th 2007 the mission reached the moon. The mission is named Chang’e-1 (嫦娥一号 Cháng’é Yīhào). Chang’e is the name of the Chinese moon goddess who sent a prince to the moon. The number 1 indicates that more missions to the moon will follow up. The whole mission has a pricetag of US$ 184 million and has several scientific objectives including making a high quality map of the moon with a resolution of 120 meter per pixel.
According to the Chinese government the step is necessary to map resources on the moon. The NASA already mapped 10 different resources on the moon. China wants to increase this numer to 14. Is China already so desperate in it’s search for more resources to reach for the moon?
The consumption of fresh resources is increasing every day in China. The enormous growth of the Chinese economy is the root of this evil problem. In the last months China made lots of contracts with Africa to secure oil and other goods from the black continent. The energy demand is incredible and on very hot days the energy system breaks down because of all the air conditioners. So how can the step to the moon help China?
I can only guess, since a mission to the moon is quite expensive. At the moment there is no point in going to the moon for resources like these. It’s just too expensive to bring any material from the moon to earth. Even if the moon was made of pure diamonds, going there and bringing them back wouldn’t be economical at the moment.
The word of the government is misleading. China doesn’t want to go to the moon and bring some containers of moondust for industrial processing. What they do want is getting more people interested in science. China is in dire need of highly educated scientists to solve its energy and technical problems. And they understand that a mission to the moon can attract more young people to start studying. Very smart.
The mission is also a big prestige win for China. Maybe they can attract more scientists from oversea to work for them. At least China is now one step closer to be recognized as high tech nation. However there are still many people in China who don’t have a bowl of rice every day. Since the country is already very crowded and valuable space becomes scarce the true objective of the moon mission might be finding more space for rice fields. I hope so.
It’s amazing how far China has come. Hopefully Chang’e will increase our knowledge about the moon a lot.