In the early hours of January 8, the world’s first private mission aspiring to land on the moon blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The moment also marked the United States’ first lunar landing attempt since 1972.
Excitement over Peregrine Mission One, however, was short-lived, as the craft failed to orient its solar panels. Then came an irreparable fuel leak, pushing back efforts to send humans into space by at least a year.
The setback sharply contrasted with China’s celestial track record.
Since 2007, Beijing has successfully launched several missions to both the lunar orbit and surface, including on the far side.
It also has a permanently crewed Tiangong space station in low-Earth orbit – setting it up as the only space station in operation when the International Space Station is retired in about 2030.