By 2030, the International Space Station may have become the first space museum of the late 1990s, when everyone tried to work together. By prohibiting the Chinese from boarding the ISS in 2011, the US compelled China to go its own way. As a result, like during the Cold War years, the next stage of space conquest – namely that of the Moon – will be a competition between American and Chinese camps. On the one hand, the Lunar Gateway, the lunar orbital station project proposed by the Americans in 2018, bringing together Europeans, Canadians and Japanese with a view to a launch in 2024; and on the other hand, the brand new ILRS (International Lunar Research Station), a Chinese-Russian project for a human-inhabited lunar station open to any interested space agency, which is due to see the daylight around 2030.
The small space world regrets this division of research and exploration. That said, let’s not forget that the Cold War years correspond to the 30 glorious years of Space… perhaps even, this competition is what actually allowed the American-Russian war to remain ‘cold’…
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