BRI Update - Apollo 11 Special, July 26
A Community of Shared Future for Mankind in Space too!
BRIX, July 26 -- As the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by U.S. Apollo 11 crew (Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins) on July 20th, a new wave of optimism have swept across the world. It is such groundbreaking achievements that remind people of their true mission in life, on Earth and the universe, that is to be creative, to discover and explore new frontiers of knowledge, science and technology while at the same time resolving a myriad of issues and conflicts that stem from the pessimistic and cynical view that the nature of humans is egoism and the characteristic of nations is to undermine each other and to fight over purported “limited resources”.
“A community of shared future for mankind”, the concept which was pronounced by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the UN General Assembly in September 2015, should no longer be Earth-bound, but rather encompass everywhere human civilization reaches in the Solar System and the universe beyond. The fruits of space exploration by any nation should be celebrated and shared by all nations. This idea is shared by the best of the U.S. and European astronauts and space scientists. When Armstrong set his foot on the surface of the moon, he said this was “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." He did not say it is “giant leap for the U.S.” but for all mankind, because he understood the right implications of his and his crews achievement.
In a recent intervention at a George Washington University event titled “One Giant Leap: Space Diplomacy, Past, Present, and Future”, Buzz Aldrin called for the creation of an “international space alliance” where the U.S. would cooperate with China, Russia, European ESA, Japan and India. He correctly argued that the colonization of the Moon and making it a launchpad for manned missions to Mars cannot be achieved efficiently by one nation. This is also a means to achieve global peace, and advance scientific and technological cooperation which should eventually include every nation in the world.
Aldrin was also critical of the U.S. policy of the recent decades and expressed his disappointment during a reception in the Oval Office with President Trump on July 20, where he lamented the fact the financing of all the the wars in Southwest Asia have undermined the financing of the important projects of NASA and U.S. space exploration missions. Furthermore, Aldrin was asked in an interview on Fox News about a recent Harris poll among children in grades 5-10 in China, America and the U.K., including the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with five career areas suggested and the possibility to “want” more than one career. In China, 56% of the children wanted to be astronauts, 47% to be teachers, and 43% to be musicians. Least desired, was to be a video blogger/YouTube personality. In the U.K. and United States, the choices were reversed: video blogger/YouTube figure was desired most “when I grow up,” and astronaut, least. Aldrin said “I think it’s a tribute to the imagination of the people in China, wanting to do that. And if we’ve lost that, that’s why this ‘5 decades of Apollo’ is trying to inspire, [with] what this nation did 50 years ago, and we’ll get caught up again in being able to do things of that inspirational nature.”
The U.S. should not only join the Belt and Road Initiative for its own benefit and that of the world but also join hands with China, Russia, and India who are rapidly becoming leading nations in space exploration. As Aldrin and other U.S. space scientist have argued, it is not enough for the U.S. to just celebrate its past glories and miss the great opportunities these achievement opened for mankind 50 years ago, because it will be left behind and its great scientific and technical capabilities in this field will be missed by everyone. The U.S. was missing in the recent very high level event in Zhuhai, China on July 23-24 called “The Fourth International Conference on Lunar and Deep Space Exploration”, in which leading space experts from China, Russia, India and the European Space Agency participated. It is this kind of “space diplomacy” which is necessary to ease the tension in the world and bring the major superpowers and their allies around a unified mission for mankind.
- Russian Space Agency chief Rogozin congratulates NASA on 50th Anniversary of Moon Landing. Russian state corporation Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin extended and inspiring message of congratulations to NASA head Jim Bridenstine on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. "50 years ago, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins put themselves into the world's space exploration history books. They joined the crew of the great pioneers, who dared to set off on a journey to the unknown in order to push the boundaries of the reachable world for the humanity," Rogozin's message read which was posted on the Roscosmos website.
"We should also pay tribute to all NASA engineering personnel having passed through a series of failures and tragedies managed to create "Saturn-5," the world's first super heavy-lift launch vehicle, as well as the "Apollo" spacecraft. Their joint efforts, skills and knowledge turned into a reliable rocket and space system, which allowed implementing the "Soyuz-Apollo" project in the following years," the Roscosmos chief continued. "I do believe that our common goal is to be worthy of our great predecessors, to enrich their heritage and overcome all the difficulties on the Earth in order to continue the expansion of the humanity into space," he concluded.
- New Crew Docks with Space Station on Apollo 11 Anniversary. On July 20, exactly 50 years after Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon's surface, a team composed of a NASA astronaut, and Italian light engineer, and a Russian commander took flight from Baikonur, Kazakhstan in a Soyuz spacecraft, and made a perfect docking with the International Space Station. The new crew includes Soyuz MS-13/59S Commander Alexander Skvortsov, Italian co-pilot Luca Parmitano, and NASA physician-astronaut Andrew Morgan, who launched at 12:28 p.m. EDT on the first step in a four-orbit rendezvous with the space station laboratory complex. The timing of the launch coincided with the Apollo 11 Moon landing on July 20, 1969. Morgan said he was honored to be a symbolic link with the past. Skvortsov, Parmitano and Morgan carried out a series of carefully scripted rocket firings to catch up with the lab complex, moving in for a docking at 6:48 p.m. Hatches were expected to be opened later, after lengthy checks to make sure there was an airtight seal between the two spacecraft.
Standing by to welcome their new crew mates were Expedition Commander Alexey Ovchinin and NASA flight engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch. The expanded six-member crew faces a busy Summer and Fall in space, with multiple spacewalks, and the arrival and departure of multiple visiting vehicles and a full list of scientific research.
- India’s Chandrayaan-2 Launches for Lunar South Pole Mission. Adding to the international wave of space celebration, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched Chandrayaan-2 on Sunday evening, July 21. It was ISRO, with Chandrayaan-1 in 2007, that confirmed for the first time large amounts of water, frozen, on the Moon, and this mission is heading for the unexplored South Pole where that ice is. It will be in Earth orbit for a month, with Moon landing scheduled for early September. The mission will focus on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring moonquakes, among other things. BBC reports, “India is using its most powerful rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III), in this mission. It weighs 640 tons (almost 1.5 times the weight of a fully-loaded 747 jumbo jet) and at 44 meters is as high as a 14-story building.”
ISRO’s website and Facebook page, preparing for the original launch date for Chandrayaan-2 two weeks ago, under the headline, “Inching Towards the Edge of Discovery,” wrote: “Chandrayaan-2 is an Indian lunar mission that will boldly go where no country has ever gone before—the Moon’s south polar region. Through this effort, the aim is to improve our understanding of the Moon—discoveries that will benefit India and humanity as a whole. These insights and experiences aim at a paradigm shift in how lunar expeditions are approached for years to come, propelling further voyages into the farthest frontiers.”
ISRO also sounds a very similar note to NASA Administrator James Bridenstine: “The Moon ... is also a promising test bed to demonstrate technologies required for deep-space missions. Chandrayaan-2 attempts to foster a new age of discovery, increase our understanding of space, stimulate the advancement of technology, promote global alliances, and inspire a future generation of explorers and scientists.”
- China Congratulates India on Chandrayaan-2 Launch, offers to Collaborate in Space Exploration. On the July 22 press briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying offered congratulations to India on the successful launch of the Chandrayaan-2 lunar probe.
“The exploration and utilization of outer-space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies,” she said, “is the common cause for mankind and should serve the common good of mankind. China has been committed to the peaceful use of outer-space and actively conducted relevant international communication and cooperation. We stand ready to work with India and other relevant parties to make contributions to the exploration of outer-space and bringing benefits to humankind.”
RT and other media make the obvious point that were China and India to collaborate on space exploration or a mission to the Moon, it would provide an opportunity for both powers to repair their relations. The Hindu Business Line quoted Wu Weiren, chief of China’s lunar exploration program, who also congratulated India on its launch success, and emphasized that while China is actively pursuing its own Moon mission, it is not in competition with any other nation planning their own space missions. China is paying close attention to other nations’ space endeavors, Wu stressed, but added that the “international trend will not play a decisive role in China’s planning on its lunar missions, and China is not going to compete with anyone on the matter.”
Wu also indicated that Chinese scientists are conducting feasibility studies on sending astronauts to the Moon, which he said, “won’t be too much of a problem.” But he offered no details as for a timetable for such a mission.
- Apollo 11 Astronauts Were Asked to look for Chang'e and Her Rabbit, Yutu! In "8 days: to the Moon and Back," about the Apollo 11 mission, a BBC film shown on Danish TV2, the following exchange was included in a section about the astronauts receiving news reports from Earth in July 1969:
Mission Control: Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, there's one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient [Chinese] legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang'e has been living there for 4,000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported.
Buzz Aldrin: Okay. We'll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.
The Chinese Chang'e mission would launch its first rocket in 2007. Chang'e-3 and its first lunar rover Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, launched in 2013. You can hear the original exchange here: The Bunny Girl on the Moon.
- U.S. Military Intelligence veteran’s blogg calls on U.S. to work with China on the BRI. Writing in Col. Pat Lang’s “Sic Semper Tyrannis” blog, regular contributor “Harper” reviews the history of the Belt and Road Initiative from the time that President Xi Jinping first presented it in 2013, stating that the U.S., under Barack Obama, had refused to join the initiative, and tried, but failed to convince other nations to stay away from it and refuse to join such institutions as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Writing under the headline, “The Belt and Road—a Marshall Plan with Chinese Characteristics,” Harper points out that Western nations have failed miserably to invest in urgently needed infrastructure in developing nations, so it should come as no surprise that China has moved into the vacuum. The U.S. has finally taken a small and belated action by passing the BUILD Act, which created the International Development Finance Corporation with an initial capital of $60 billion (to be spread throughout the developing sector).
This very limited step is moving in the right direction, Harper observes, but suggests a better option would be to provide alternative financing for infrastructure in the Southern part of the globe. And better yet, why not join the Chinese effort, which he suggests is a way to ensure it won’t become a “Chinese geopolitical trump card.”) Beijing invited the U.S. to join the AIIB and participate in joint investments, to no avail; it even proposed investing its $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury holdings in a national infrastructure bank “to redress America’s crumbling infrastructure.” The U.S. has yet to respond.
* (Courtesy of Executive Intelligence Review: Texts have been slightly edited and links to relevant websites added.)