The 1960s space race between the United States and the old Soviet Union saw rapid progress in space technology. We went from being unable to put people in Earth orbit, to landing men on the moon and returning them safely to earth, repeatedly, in less than a decade. It happened so fast because each nation was afraid the other would get there first.
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, in fact, was basically a deal to throw the contest out. Each nation was more afraid of being beaten than it was, really, anxious to win itself. As soon as the ink on the treaty was dry, space efforts began to dry up, too. That's one reason why no one has had a soft landing on the moon in almost 40 years -- and why it's been 41 years almost to the day since the last man, astronaut Eugene Cernan, stood on the moon.
If, like me, you'd like to see a gold rush on the moon -- or, at least, a Helium-3 rush -- then a Chinese claim might be just the thing to get it started.
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