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Power & Space…

The surface of the Moon has always allured people here on the Earth. Once, space scientists and technologists of two of the world’s most powerful nations had tried to assure their political leaders that they would leave no stones unturned in order to colonise the Moon! The Lunar Missions had played (something more than just) an important role in the Cold War between the erstwhile Soviet Union and the US (during the post-WWII era). The more different facets of the Moon have been discovered, the more she has attracted the space scientists!
(Unfortunately), the fifth-largest satellite in the Solar System has become a tool for showcasing the might of the world powers! During his visit to the US in 1959, the then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev presented a metal model of the Moon, with the USSR’s hammer-and-sickle symbol on it, to US President Dwight Eisenhower. As the Soviet Union became the dominant space power by achieving almost every significant space milestone first, Khrushchev decided to troll the US! The US gave a fitting reply to the Soviet 10 years later, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin reportedly landing on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

Eisenhower (L) looks to the gift, a miniature of Luna-2 station, that he was given by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev (R), during Khrushchev’s official visit to the US

Leonardo da Vinci was, perhaps, the first person to rightly realise that the Moon was not shrinking or expanding, but some parts of it were just hidden. However, the Italian polymath of the Renaissance failed to realise that the hidden parts of the Moon could trigger a (political) tug of war between the world powers. Despite becoming a victim of the ‘Politics of Space Science’, the quests for the Moon have witnessed numerous failures! Yes, Space was all about prestige, as both the Soviet and the US thought that having control of the skies, and hovering over their enemy, was a priceless achievement! However, both the world powers also experienced failures while conquering the Moon!


As per the Moon Fact Sheet published by NASA, many countries, including the US, Russia, Japan, the European Union, China, Israel and India, have sent spacecrafts to the Moon – a total of 109 times since 1958. Of these, 61 Lunar Missions were successful, while the remaining 48 failed due to various reasons. Still, the Moon attracts scientists a lot. In the past, only two world powers had Lunar Missions. Later, many countries launched such missions. However, the global community should understand the fact that the main aim of Lunar or Space Missions should be for the advancement and enrichment of science. World powers should not be allowed to use Space as their political battlefields (for the sake of Human Civilisation).

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