Why China's lunar landing could mean more satellite launches

China's first lunar-landing over the weekend brings the total number of nations to achieve a soft-landing on the moon up to three — but it could also mean a jump in the number of the number of satellites (both media and military) circling overhead.

Today, Rana Mitter, from the University of Oxford, joined us to take questions about China's history, present, and future. Besides sharing his recommendations on where to find the liveliest social media scenes ("WeChat or Weibo [equivalents of Twitter]"), Mitter also responded to a question about what we can expect from China's space program — and what the lunar-landing could mean for media growth in China:

China's space programme is likely to expand in some pretty impressive ways. That's because it's not just a space programme - it's also an expression of China's new sense of global role. So, for instance, we can expect to see more satellites, both for military purposes and also to help drive China's role as global media provider (see for instance the opening up of some 20 new bureaus for CCTV International in Africa).

But the real prize will be the moon and beyond. China is interested in gathering the mineral resources of the moon but also wants, without doubt, to be the country that plants a flag in the lunar dust. That will finally mark China's coming of age as a global power. The USSR used space power to oppose the US instead of providing a consumerist lifestyle for its people - China wants to do both.

Image: Lunar Reconnaissane Orbiter, NASA