The Straits Times says

Challenges for Earth? Watch this space

The successful landing of China's lunar probe on the far side of the Moon is the latest human achievement in space exploration. The erstwhile Soviet Union inaugurated the Space Age in 1957 with the successful launch of Sputnik I, the world's first artificial satellite. The event spurred on the United States to stay in the space race, a momentum that led ultimately to the Apollo 11 mission which landed the first men on the Moon in 1969. Now, China has surpassed the remit of lunar investigations by landing the Chang'e-4 to discover what lies on the mysterious "dark side" of the Moon. While the US and Russia can launch similar landings on the far side, China got there first and, not unexpectedly, celebrated its latest significant technological accomplishment.

China has demonstrated that lunar exploration is not the preserve of any one nation, cultural system or ideology. Much as Sputnik put the world on notice about the technological abilities of the then Soviet Union, which in turn enhanced its economic and strategic capabilities, the Chang'e-4 landing showed that China's path to modernisation is well on its way. Even countries that do not share China's political model and strategic goals are heartened by its scientific achievements. The Moon is neutral to the terrestrial ideologies that make humans strive to reach it.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2019, with the headline 'Challenges for Earth? Watch this space'. Print Edition | Subscribe