You might recall that not too long ago China accomplished the remarkable feat of sending a probe to and landing it on the far side of the Moon, a feat requiring the placing of relay satellites around that body, and then landing the probe. There were a few pictures, and then, silence. A few weeks ago yet another story was in the news - one I even blogged about - as scientists are discussing the idea of building an Arecibo-like radio telescope in a lunar crater, again on the "far side."
It does appear that, now, things might be accelerating as far as the Moon is concerned. Accordingly, today we're considering two articles in tandem, the first shared by W.G.:
Note what this article says:
A new report published by the Air Force Research Laboratory suggests the U.S. Space Force has to prepare for a day when the moon and the volume of space around it could become the next military frontier.
“A Primer on Cislunar Space” was released June 23 by AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate. Its intended audience are military space professionals who one day might have to develop spacecraft and concepts for operations in regions beyond Earth’s orbit.
Col. Eric Felt, the director of AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate, said the document aims to “educate and inspire.”
AFRL has long been a proponent of advancing research on cislunar space. The Space Vehicles Directorate last year announced it will fund an experiment to investigate technologies to monitor cislunar space. The experiment was named CHPS, for Cislunar Highway Patrol System.
One of the concerns is developing technologies for surveillance, navigation and communications in cislunar space. (Boldface emphasis added)
And that is almost the entirety of the article. But it manages to pack a lot of implications into that short space. Firstly, consider the inevitable militarization of the Moon that the report implies, notwithstanding international treaty obligations. Indeed, I've been warning for years that with the commercialization of space its militarization is not far behind, and my model for this has been the East Indies Corporations of the British, Dutch, and French. These corporations were, in effect, private jurisdictions with their own private militaries, dragging their sponsoring nations into imperialism behind them. To make a very long and important story very short: eventually those private militaries were outpaced by the size of their corporate commitments, and the royal navies of those countries were the result, as the costs of maintaining military security of the corporate conquests were rolled over to the public taxpayer.
There's perhaps a hint of what's coming in the experiment "to investigate technologies to monitor cislunar space" called CHPS, or the "Cislunar Highway Patrol System." I may be crawling way off the end of the twig here, but I do not think it is entirely coincidental that CHPS is a very short one-letter away from CHIPS, the acronym for the Clearing House Interbank Payment System, the USA's domestic version of SWIFT, the international payments and clearing system. If this acronym is not coincidental, then the implication is that the USA intends not only to dominate, but to monopolize any Earth-Moon financial clearing, which would also fill the surveillance role quite easily.
Now set that article aside, and ponder this article sent by T.M.:
Note that not only is NASA planning to send landers to the far side of the Moon to probe the lunar crust and interior - a necessary step toward "mining" the Moon - but note how this article concludes:
These are only some of the first steps in the NASA Commercial Payload Launch Services program, which intends to utilize commercial rocket launches to deliver payloads to the Moon. Since those launches only have to travel to our nearest neighbor, things like launch windows are less of a concern in project development timelines. LITMS is on track for a 2024 launch and landing date, where it will start providing more data about the interior of the moon...
In other words, commericialization is the goal, and with it, militarization.
I cannot help but wonder, however, if there is more to this race to the Far Side of the Moon, particularly after the Chinese feat. I've speculated recently that one of the things the recent defection of the chief of Chinese counter-intelligence might have brought with him was information about the Chinese space program in general and more specifically that he might have brought copies of pictures and other data not released by the Chinese about whatever they found up there, and particularly on the far side.
Any way one slices it, it does appear that for some reason the far side is attracting a lot of attention, and that behind all the rhetoric about commercialization of space and mining the Moon, there is possibly something else going on. Space, after all, is the "high ground," and the Moon vis-a-vis the Earth is the controlling high ground, the perfect vehicle for keeping an eye on the Earth, and the perfect place from which to defend it or attack it...
See you on the flip side...