When China sends a rocket to the moon next month, it could disrupt an ongoing experiment. NASA’s lunar atmosphere and dust environment explorer (LADEE) is studying the moon’s thin exosphere and the small particles floating there. Retired professor John Logsdon works with the U.S. Space Policy Institute.
“It will firing retro-rockets to land on the moon, and that may well pollute the atmosphere and therefore affect the measurements that LADEE is making,” Logsdon says, “and then kick up a dust cloud when it does land.”
This is the second of three Chinese missions to the moon. The next one takes off in three years. Then, within a decade, China could be sending a manned mission there.
“I would expect by the end of the 2020s, start of the 2030s,” he says, “China will be preparing to see its Taikonauts to the moon.”
Taikonauts are the Chinese version of astronauts.