NASA astronaut Harrison Schmitt stands next to the U.S. flag on the moon with Earth hanging in the black sky above during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. (NASA Photo)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An American rivalry with China could stoke a new space race in the years ahead, a space policy official and the last American to set foot on the moon said here today at a session marking the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo missions.
But it may not play out the way the U.S.-Soviet space race did, said Scott Pace, executive secretary for the White House’s National Space Council. Billionaire-backed space efforts such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin could well play a leading role.
“China has billionaires, too,” Pace said at the ScienceWriters2018 conference, held at George Washington University. “China has a growing commercial space sector that is not simply People’s Liberation Army guys in new suits, but a commercial industry also emerging out there. And so they are not merely national security competitors, but they’re also potential commercial competitors — as China is in many other areas.”
Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who accompanied the late Gene Cernan to the lunar ...