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Back to the moon

Its south pole may be as valuable as Saudi Arabia’s oilfields. But who will get there first?

Reaching for the Moon: a lunar base as envisaged by Nasa engineers in 1989

From the end of the Apollo and Soviet missions in the 1970s until 2005 there were only two missions to the Moon. But since 2006, nine missions have been launched— from Japan, India, China, Europe and the US. Eight more are being put together and Britain is pondering its own voyage to the dark side. Why the sudden interest?

In the short term, the new players in space are reaching for the Moon while keeping their eyes firmly on planet Earth. As Jon Cartwright reported in…

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