On February 28, 2019 a new policy announcement was made in Ottawa Canada that called for a re-orientation towards space exploration in partnership with NASA on an endeavor known as the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G) program.
This program was first announced at a Press conference in the morning with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accompanied by several fellow MPs and two young astronauts. The press conference also featured an inspired presentation by David St. Jacques, the French Canadian astronaut now working alongside American and Russian counterparts on the International Space Station who discussed the ultimate purpose of mankind as a species destined to explore deep space and therein discover our common identity. St Jacques stated:
“The International Space Station… is an example of what humanity can accomplish when we go beyond our differences and work together in peace for the benefit of all… I trained for years with people from around the world and what I realised is that the place we come from isn’t as important as the goal that brings us together- exploration and the advance of knowledge… Here on ISS we have been learning and gaining experience. Now building on what we learned we are getting ready to take the next step. Gateway will be an outpost where humans can live in lunar orbit, where we will learn to live even more autonomously from mother earth.”
The essentials of the program involve a pledge to spend $2 billion over 24 years towards the Lunar Gateway and while it will focus upon Canada’s specialization in Robotics, will have a much more wide ranging set of goals including service as a Science laboratory, a test site for new technologies, a meeting location for the exploration to the surface of the moon, mission control center for lunar operations and a future stepping stone for voyages to Mars.
Responding to the Press Conference, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine enthusiastically wrote:
“NASA is thrilled that Canada is the first international partner for the Gateway lunar outpost. Space exploration is in Canada’s DNA. In 1962, Canada became the third nation to launch a satellite into orbit with Alouette 1. Today, Canada leads the world in space-based robotic capabilities, enabling critical repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope and construction of the International Space Station. Our new collaboration on Gateway will enable our broader international partnership to get to the Moon and eventually to Mars”
This surprising shift towards a pro-NASA space program reflects a deeper pro-China maneuver underway within the Trump Administration which has occurred in spite of years of severe resistance.
It is no secret that NASA’s Gateway program was itself made possible by the advanced vision which both Russia and China have expressed towards a long term deep space orientation; with Russia having already announced a permanent lunar colony by 2040 (with construction slated to begin in 2025), and China’s multi-phase Chang’e program which has just made a milestone landing on the far side of the Moon. The fact that the January 3, 2019 Chang’e 4 landing occurred with collaboration with NASA was no small feat and represented a gigantic success in overthrowing the 2011 ban on US-China cooperation on space.
We have come to the moment of truth
Nothing short of a profound shift in the global operating system can have any durable positive effect upon humanity as a whole. That profound shift must take on the character of a leap from a “closed system” of entropy, towards an “open system” modelled on the principle of anti-entropy. Where the former system relies on monopolising fixed resources within a zero-sum system of “diminishing rates of return”, the latter system prioritises creative discoveries that increase mankind’s power over nature in a manner which is in accord with the natural tendency for life to grow and thrive under states of increasing creative potential.
The Belt and Road Initiative and it’s orientation towards “win-win cooperation” alongside the Russia-China program for unbounded deep space exploration and nuclear power investment have exemplified the potential for “open-system thinking” in the 21st century.
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