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.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/17/will-chinas-moon-landing-restart-the-spa