Another game of solar system monopoly is being played at the moment, and so far, the United States are losing it, according to commercial space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow.
The first prize, ownership of the Moon, is up for grabs, and while Americans are still basking in the glory they had some 40 years ago, China seems ready, willing and able to snag it. Meanwhile, according to him, NASA is just a shadow of its former self, while in contrast, China has the motivation and ability to win the next space race and claim ownership of much of the moon. In order to back up his claims, he explains that according to the international law, such a thing is possible, especially if they able to enforce it through continuous human lunar presence.
Owning a chunk of the moon would not only give scientific and financial advantages, but the international prestige would be huge! Not only does it offer a possibility to study our planet's satellite in unprecedented detail, but it is also a starting point to study the rest of the solar system! It also contains some incredibly valuable resources, such as helium-3, a possible fuel for nuclear fusion.
In addition to the technical capacity and the workpower, China also has the money and the lack of national debt to fund such a thing. He predicted that in 2022-2026, they will own large areas of the Moon, which will both scare and motivate the Americans to start looking somewhere else - Mars.
He advocated for putting 10 percent of the money the United States currently spends on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan toward space exploration with the goal of sending an expedition to Mars, in a truly unprecedented event.
"America would experience a rebirth of vision, excitement, science and global prestige," Bigelow said.
However, competition with China isn't the only option. If they were willing to share some of their projects, then everybody should be more than happy with a piece of the pie.
"A piece of something is better than a piece of nothing," Bigelow said.