Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin said he will lobby U.S. presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama to increase funding for space exploration.
Aldrin told The Sunday Telegraph that if the United States does not boost funding, China will land someone on the moon before the United States can return. He also said he was disappointed that the United States will not have an operable shuttle to send its own astronauts to the International Space Station in five years. He said it's a shame that U.S. astronauts will have to get rides from Russia.
Finally, Aldrin warned that if the next president does not make space exploration a priority, the United States will lag behind other countries in the space race for the next century.
The warning comes after The Kansas City Star reported that a NASA space exploration expert said that China would send someone to the moon by 2017 or 2018, while President George W. Bush's plan would not return U.S. astronauts to the moon before 2020.
Some analysts and observers see China's space prowess as a potential threat. When China celebrated its first manned spaceflight, retired U.S. space engineer James Oberg said it enhanced every statement, promise, and threat that Chinese diplomats make.
But not everyone agrees.
Al Worden, who served as the command module pilot for Apollo 15 and circled the moon alone, has said he believes it's in the United States' interest to work with, not against, other countries. Worden even said China could help the United States send people to Mars.