China is on the course to becoming the world's space superpower. Experts has expressed concerned that China is slowly building towards space profieciency, with rumors that it might soon conquer the moon.
China's rumored interest in the Moon could be due to the moon's abundance of helium-3 to be used as fuel for nuclear fusion, while the moon's raw materials could be turned into the water, oxygen, building materials and rocket fuel needed for human space exploration. At present, China is one of the world's largest importers of metals.
Billionaire space executive Robert Bigelow believes that this trend could lead to China's lunar takeover in the 2022-2026 time frame. Bigelow made the prediction at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in Las Cruces, N. M.
He noted that China is progressing along a slow, steady path toward space proficiency. This can be shown by China's space programs that include follow-ups to the Shenzhou 8 spacewalk mission in 2008, the unmanned Chang's lunar missions and last month's Tiangong 1 space lab launch.
And because China will have plenty of cash for great leaps forward in space, it can possibly surpass the U.S. which is presently beset by higher debt and tighter budgets.
However, Dean Cheng, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation tried to downplay the scenario.
"I think it is a little bit of a stretch to think about whether the Chinese will be laying claim to the moon," he said, although he admitted that Chinese were clearly interested in lunar exploration.