When India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter reaches its destination on 8 November, it will join two others – and neither is American, Russian or European. For the first time, probes from China, Japan and India will be orbiting the moon. This signals the latest stage in a new space race in which Asian nations are seeking a place alongside the established space powers. Both China and India are looking for helium-3 in the lunar crust as a possible fuel for nuclear fission reactors on Earth. The moon is estimated to have a millions tonnes of the stuff, the result of billions of years of bombardment by the solar winds.
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