While the US has reduced its national space program to skeletal proportions—and is now picking at the bones—Russia has announced an aggressive plan to build a huge base on the Moon.
During festivities celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first human ever to reach space, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed Russia would have a moonbase.
The promise came on the heels of a Kremlin press release that stated, in part, “Above all, we are talking about flights to the moon and the creation of a base close to its north pole where there is likely to be a source of water,” it explained. “This could be achieved close to 2030.”
The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, also sees the moonbase as a stepping stone to Mars.
Recently, Roscosmos announced its plans to engineer nuclear powered spacecraft with the intention of opening up interplanetary travel. U.S. space agency NASA will be involved in the meetings discussing the bold idea on April 15th.
Potential trillions of dollars in Helium-3
Helium-3 has been discovered on the Moon is significant quantities. H-3 is a form of the element that can be used as an efficient material to fuel future fusion reactors.
Fusion power—the underlying nuclear power source of the stars—has been a dream of physicists and nuclear engineers for almost a century. Fusion could provide a cheap, clean, almost inexhaustible energy source to a world with energy needs growing exponentially.
Other than their announced intention to seek ways to mine Helium-3 on the Moon, an element needed for advanced nuclear fusion reactors, the Kremlin also sees a large moonbase as strategic to their long term national security.
The Russian space program is military, not civilian, based.
That worries U.S. military intelligence.
Moonbases and national security
Although the reasons being voiced for returning to the Moon are valid, the real underlying reason for establishing bases is unspoken, yet urgent: establishing a military presence.
The Russian’s primary goal in establishing a permanent presence on the Moon goes well beyond simply mining H-3 or exploring the Lunar terrain—although they will certainly do that.
The Russians intend to create one or more military bases on the Moon. The nation that establishes a viable military presence on the Moon has grabbed the ultimate military prize: the high ground.
Since the days of ancient Greece and the Peloponnesian war, military strategists have recognized the advantage of holding the high ground. The recognition of the strategic advantage was reflected by the city planners of Athens and other capitals of the Greek city-states. That’s why they built their cities on acropolis—the raised area or summits of hills rising above the surrounding terrain. It made defense of the city magnitudes easier and offensive action against an enemy more effective.
In 1959, the U.S. Army outlined in a report a seven-year effort to put a Pentagon outpost on the moon because in their assessment, “Moon-based military power will be a strong deterrent to war,” the document opined, because “any military operations on the moon will be difficult to counter…if forces are already present and have means of…neutralizing any hostile forces that have landed.”
The Moon is the ultimate high ground in geopolitics and military strategy. It cannot be stated too strongly that the nation that is first to establish one or more military bases on the Moon will be in a position to literally have the world at its feet. If it chooses, it can effectively “Findlandize” every other country on the globe.
A great space power
At the meeting, Putin saw a grand vision for Russia and reminded everyone that even though Russia was already a great space power it could be bigger and bolder. He mentioned that Russia currently accounts for about four out of 10 space launches worldwide.
“I think we can up that by five or even ten per cent in the foreseeable future,” Putin predicted.