On 14th December, 2013 at 13:11, GMT, China’s Chang’e 3 spacecraft shut off its engines and plunged to the surface of the moon. With this descent China has become the third country to land a craft of the Moon, with the last being the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 in 1976.
The Chang’e 3 is part of a larger programme that will scour the solar system to find an environment that is less suitable for human life than the smog that currently surrounds Beijing, having recently been named as one of the most dangerous places to live in the Solar System. In contrast, the moon is currently estimated to have a rating of ‘half a Beijing’ in terms of damage to human health, while it is believed that the searing sulphurous clouds of Venus would treat a human better than the Chinese treat defiant Tibetan monks.
The landing of the lunar craft has also created the first extra-planetary incident between nations. NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is studying the dust in the atmosphere, the landing of the Chang’e 3 spacecraft has released large amounts of exhaust gas which the LADEE craft will be expected to sort through. This incident was minor compared to what followed.
Seven hours after landing the moon rover Yutu drove off Chang’e 3’s ramp and started to explore the lunar surface. The six-wheeled, 140-kilogram rover sent a small radio message to the LADEE spacecraft, subsequently translated by NASA scientists as reading ‘Suck it, USA’ and ‘the next century belongs to [China]’ along with a small jpeg image of the lead engineers of the Beijing Aerospace Control centre grabbing their genitals and miming lewd sexual acts. While the cost of transmitting this message was approximately enough money to give employees manufacturing Apple’s Siri at the FoxCom plant “a decent wage”, there appears to be near universal support for the gesture amongst Chinese citizens and much of the world.
Before NASA were able to respond, the Yutu rover made its way to the site of the famous Apollo moon landing where it removed the American flag planted in the ground. The flag has been bleached white by space radiation, with Jun Yan, chief scientists of China’s lunar exploration programme, suggesting that the bleaching is a “convenient metaphor” for America’s “surrender to China’s scientific and economic might.”
NASA finally responded with a message posted on the their website, stating “We are delighted by the actions of the Chinese Cosmonauts”. David Steiz, head of Technology and Commercialisation at NASA, later clarified “it is [NASA’s] hope that this new communist superpower reaching the moon will reinvigorate funding in the space programme”. Mr Steiz also mentioned that previous attempts to raise funds through “wonder, public pride and the predicted economic benefits of space travel inspiring the next generation of engineers and physicists” have all failed and now they are hoping that this “new red menace” can restart a space age not seen since the glory days of the cold war.
David Cameron, the British Primer minister, has also been prompted to start a British Space Agency after mistaking the bleached white American flag for that of France.
That’s no moon, that’s a well-written article