Perseverance, Tianwen-1, Hope, Mars, and space imperialism

21 February, 2021 · News> Global situation

mars perseverance tianwen 1

The Perseverance rover landed on Mars. It will be followed by a Chinese mission (Tianwen-1) and another Emirati one, Hope. The supposed conquest of Humanity touted by media around the world is immediately undermined by the competition between powers in permanent conflict. If NASA’s Moon was not our Moon, the Mars of the current military-space race is not our red planet either.

Table of Contents

Europe and the Perseverance rover

perseverance vs tianwen esa

In Europe, the European Space Agency (ESA) commented on the Perseverance Mars journey by highlighting its contribution: telecommunications. It wasn’t just engineers, Euro-bureaucrats and scientists eager for recognition. As soon as the first pictures taken by the robot arrived Macron was quick to share them. The message: the camera is French!!! In Germany, it was the precision optical instruments and sensors. In Spain, the TV news had been telling us for a week that the mini-meteorological station it carries had been manufactured in Spain and Pedro Duque, Sánchez’s astronaut-minister, strolled around the TV sets reminding us that the reason NASA had included a Spanish supplier is because it thinks that it is better manufactured in Spain than in the USA.

Intending to offset the news of U.S. success on Mars with the prominence of European Perseverance providers, EU politicians were displaying the roots of their dependence. The mission can be interpreted as a flying world exhibition touring the solar system showcasing the technical capabilities of the old cold war alliance, but the truth is that there is no one on Mars waiting to buy anything.

So the European capitals’ efforts to differentiate themselves and claim credit only pathetically highlight their own dependence. By focusing on the goodness of their products and how necessary they are to NASA, they make it clear that they would have no other way to get to Mars than the Perseverance, nor any other potential buyer than the American friend. Macron, Laschet and the Brussels bureaucrats will put small sticks in the wheel on the way to the confrontation against China and Russia that the Biden administration now wants to lead, but they have no capacity to organize themselves as an alternative. They are just unruly suppliers.

China on Mars: Tianwen-1 vs. Perseverance

perseverance rover mars
Tianwen-1

For the US the real space race is against China and is only scientific in an instrumental way. China is clear: it plans to develop the capabilities to permanently militarize space. While the Tianwen-1 probe traveled to Mars, another Chinese mission went to the Moon, deployed instruments on the ground, picked up the stuff and returned to Earth intact. Quite a statement of intent.

Even the dimmest of analysts see the competition between Tianwen and Perseverance as part of China’s drive to build a nuclear arsenal equivalent to that of the US, develop its own military aerospace technology and prepare for war by uniting in a single doctrine and technological base all forms and terrains of combat.

In this respect, Mars missions go beyond the logic of the space race: they are a veritable testing ground for technologies that will be used on Earth. For example, both the Perseverance probe and the rover deployed by the Tianwen are powered by a small Plutonium engine. That is, it intends to be able to remain active and autonomous for a long period. A goal that China is trying to achieve for its new naval drones and unmanned submarines.

Emirates and Hope in queue for Mars

The Emirati probe Hope, touted as The First Arab Mission to Mars, is an even starker compendium of everything associated with imperialism than its competitors.

Immediately, the Emirates is trying to showcase a cutting-edge aerospace industry, capable of producing in record time spacecraft and missions capable of competing with projects such as Perseverance or Tianwen. The interest in attracting customers and investment for an industry with immense margins and turnover volumes is obvious at a time when the future of oil is no longer bright enough to sustain national capital in the long term.

But the propaganda element is evident as well. Hope belongs to the millions of young people in this region, declared on Twitter the Director of Strategic Communications at the Foreign Office. Yes, a woman. The whole project has been mediatically starring young Arab women and men as Sarah Al Amiri, the minister of Advanced Sciences, a paragon of erudition and competence who day in and day out appears on TV screens across the Arab world.

The underlying message is clear: this is a 100% Arab project proving that the Emirati model is the only one that offers a future for Arab and Muslim youth. In other words: Don’t look to Turkey and the stale epic of the Muslim Brotherhood or to Iran. The future lies elsewhere.

But of course, this elsewhere is hardly separable from the war against Iran’s allies in Yemen, the growing prominence of the Emirati military in Libya, Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean, its role in the Horn of Africa, its presence in Syria and the new strategic alliance with Israel. In other words, it is a recruitment call for the redrawing of the map of conflicts in Africa and the Middle East that Emirati imperialist interests have undertaken over the past few years.

For the Emirates, the space race is indistinguishable from war and the arms race at the regional level and from the assertion, in the great imperialist framework, of a certain autonomy with respect to the United States. On another level, the Emirates was the first rich state to bet on the Chinese vaccine.

Reaching Mars is neither progress, nor the goal of our perseverance nor Humanity’s hope

Reaching Mars propelled by a race towards war, driven by the engine of the same imperialist interests that massacre and impoverish entire regions and continents is not progress, human development, or anything resembling it.

Progress cannot be conceived, in fact, except as the promotion of the integral man within a society in which production and the technical means favoring human growth are unconditionally at the service of Man, fostering human liberation and perfection as an individual being and as a social being. We mean, in a word, that every form of progress is false and twisted if it is not directed, first of all, to make all the forces of production serve the material and spiritual improvement of the producers themselves.

Conquest of Space, Subjugation of Peoples,1962

In fact it is its opposite, the most brutal expression of how an anti-historical and anti-human system such as current capitalism can turn Humanity’s greatest potential – science and knowledge accumulated over millennia – into a danger to the species.

In their hands, the most promising scientific advances are turned against today’s man and are an aggression to the future of culture. They touch the moon only to better enslave the peoples. Along with the latter, we revolutionaries keep asking for the moon. From life to death and from death to life we will not cease until we obtain it. The Russian or American reactionaries will never attain it, because that moon, Man’s moon, presupposes the suppression of armies and police, of nations and classes, and must begin with the uprising of the peoples against their respective rocket and bomb-making governments. Our moon is world revolution and world socialism. Once science and all cultural activities are placed at the service of the needs and within the reach of all humans, man will discover himself and outside himself he will be able to explore the farthest galaxies.

That’s Not Our Moon, 1960

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