There may be a new twist to China's Silk Road economic and infrastructure strategy, one that has truly enormous geopolitical and commercial implications. First, let's recall where exactly we are in terms of China's Silk Road project. A few weeks ago, the first freight train from China arrived in... London. Now, Mr. J. has shared an article that indicates the return trip, loaded with British goods, has been made:
The date of this achievement, April 29, was just a few days ago. Similarly, one can also imagine similar trips from London all the way to Vladivostok (with the appropriate stop to convert cars to the wider Russian gauge). In any case, that this means is that the Eurasian land mass is already connected. The real project is to build it out, and make those connections even more redundant.
So with that in mind, consider these two articles, which many of you noticed this week:
There are statements in three paragraphs that caught my attention in the first article:
As with all things in this new age of space exploration, collaboration appears to be the key to making things happen. This certainly seems to be the case when it comes to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the ESA’s respective plans for lunar exploration. As spokespeople from both agencies announced this week, the CNSA and the ESA hope to work together to create a “Moon Village” by the 2020s.
Yulong and Hvistendahl indicated that this base would aid in the development of lunar mining, space tourism, and facilitate missions deeper into space – particularly to Mars. It would also build upon recent accomplishments by both agencies, which have successfully deployed robotic orbiters and landers to the Moon in the past few decades. These include the CNSA’s Chang’e missions, as well as the ESA’s SMART-1 mission.
As part of the Chang’e program, the Chinese landers explored the lunar surface in part to investigate the prospect of mining Helium-3, which could be used to power fusion reactors here on Earth....
And lest we forget, China and Europe are exploring the use of 3D Printing in their extraterrestrial human colony schemes:
In addition, its is likely that the construction of this base will rely on additive manufacture (aka. 3-d printing) techniques specially developed for the lunar environment. In 2013, the ESA announced that they had teamed up with renowned architects Foster+Partners to test the feasibility of using lunar soil to print walls that would protect lunar domes from harmful radiation and micrometeorites.
If one looks closely at these proposals, they are nothing less than the extension of the New Silk Road project concepts to space itself. And in this respect, it's interesting the Chinese and Europeans are discussing concepts, plans, and possibilities directly with each other.
This, I submit, is another geopolitical earthquake, and it presages yet another eventuality: if Europe opts to go with China in these developments, inevitably, this will mean an economic, geopolitical, and military break with NATO and the USA. Why? Well, other than the obvious reasons, there are the not-so-obvious reasons. I and others have repeatedly said, and warned, that where there is space commercialization, there will inevitably space militarization and weaponization; one has to protect all those very expensively developed space assets from potential competitors and interdiction. China has already demonstrated a sophisticated anti-satellite capability; Russia probably has an equal if not more sophisticated capability, but they're being typically secretive about it. Europe most likely has developed similar technologies. In any case, the point is, that rest assured the Chinese and Europeans are talking about Moon tourism, mining, permanent human colonies there, the use of 3d printing to construct such habitats.
But one can also be absolutely certain that, behind closed doors, and at very high levels, the Chinese and Europeans also have been discussing those other issues...
See you on the flip side...