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China's moon landing sets the stage for a new space race

China moon landing sets stage for space race
China moon landing sets stage for space race 02:58

A historic moon mission is setting the stage for a new space race, this time between the U.S. and China.

The Chinese Chang'e 4 lander captured the orange-tinted landscape on the far side of the moon Wednesday, becoming the first space probe to ever land there. It's a breakthrough that, as CBS News' Mark Strassmann reports, may intensify the U.S.-Chinese rivalry.

China intends to be a space power – to walk on the moon, and eventually, establish a lunar base. 

"What a change it's been from a year ago, several years ago, when the question was, can China innovate? Can China keep up? And now it's more of a question of are they reaching parity and what happens next?" said Isaac Stone Fish, an expert on U.S.-China relations.

All six crewed Apollo flights beginning in 1969 landed on the moon's near side. Twelve men, all Americans, left flags and footprints. The last time was in 1972, as NASA then shifted its focus to low-earth orbit.

In 2017, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive No. 1: the moon is again America's top spaceflight priority.

"It's time to take all of what we've learned on the International Space Station and go the next step for a permanent presence on and at the moon," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
"We're the only nation that's done it. All these other nations want to do it," Bridenstine said.  

He believes a lunar presence is "critical" to deeper space exploration.

"So this gives us an opportunity to prove how are we going to live and work for a lengthened period of time on a world that's not our own," Bridenstine said.
NASA's planning for a solar-powered mini-space station to orbit the moon called the Lunar Gateway, the next step to a Mars mission. Partners will include other countries and other companies. Their competition? China.

"We are reaching a new era of U.S.-China relations that seems to be more defined by competition than collaboration … and a space race could certainly be a part of this future," Isaac Stone Fish said.

A glimpse into that future just landed on the far side of the moon.

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