Midnight in Beijing.
It was 8 am in Washington.
For most Americans, the day had just begun.
Inside a home in the suburbs of New Jersey, a couple and their four-year-old child enjoyed breakfast at the dining table.
Julia added some dressing into the salad bowl. She glanced at the news on the TV, which was about the Ares project. She couldnt help but say, "I dont get it, why do we have to spend money to compete with China on this. Cant the money be better used elsewhere?"
Brad was munching on a bacon sandwich. He grinned at the TV and spoke.
"You dont get it, this is what guys do."
Julia rolled her eyes at her husband.
"Yeah, a truck driver cares about space. Its not like theyre going to let you drive a truck on Mars."
Brad raised his eyebrows and smiled as he said, "It might happen one day. Apparently, Ares is recruiting volunteers, so maybe Ill be like Han Solo"
"Dont even think about it!"
Brad looked at his serious-faced wife, and he tried to calm her down.
"Relax, sweetheart I was just kidding. Im not actually going to sign up."
Suddenly, a piece of breaking news was being shown on TV.
"Nine minutes ago, NASAs observation satellite found that Skyglow with a lunar module took off from Chinas Jinling launch site. As of right now, it has left the stratosphere and is on its way to low-Earth orbit."
Brad stared at the image on the screen, and his mouth was wide open. He didnt even notice his bacon slices dropping from his sandwich.
"Oh my God The Chinese are going on the Moon."
Julia was flicking the salad in her bowl with a fork as she glanced at her husband.
Brad didnt answer his wife. He stared intently at the TV as he muttered, "F*ck, what is NASA even doing! We havent done anything in the past couple of decades!"
The news broadcast continued to play.
The original news segment was disrupted by this breaking news.
After reporting on the press release, the TV host immediately connected with an expert, Professor Slade, from Cornell University. He was also a consultant for NASAs Ares program, so there was no doubt he was a professional.
" After receiving this breaking news, we immediately contacted NASA expert Professor Slade Professor Slade, hello!"
Professor Slade: "Hello."
A picture of Professor Slade appeared on the screen.
Through a telephone connection, the host conducted an on-site interview.
"What do you think of Chinas moon landing plan?"
Professor Slade thought for a couple of seconds and spoke cautiously, "China didnt disclose the technical information for Skyglow. Our guesses are there may be advanced Hall-effect thrusters and miniaturized controllable fusion reactors on board Of course, other people think that they have adopted an advanced lithium-sulfur battery technology. After all, Star Sky Technologys main business is the battery industry."
TV host: "I think the majority of the audience doesnt care about the technology theyre using. Can you make a simple prediction for us?"
The host nodded and said, "Yeah, we all want to know what the probability success is."
Professor Slade: "I cant give you a clear answer. I dont have information about Skyglow."
He paused for a second and spoke in a reluctant tone.
"But if I had to estimate, Chinas chances of success are higher than the Soviets."
"You think Chinas odds of success are higher than the Soviets?" The hosts eyes were wide open as he said in disbelief, "So what youre saying is, they will succeed?"
"I didnt say that. Im just saying that their chances of success are either 50% or 30%" Professor Slade said in a vague manner, "Of course, even if they land on the Moon, they are still behind us in the aerospace field. After all, we have landed on the Moon many times. Also"
Brad was watching the news.
He sighed in relief, and he felt a lot better.
I guess theres only a 30% chance the Chinese are landing on the Moon.
NASA experts are more trustworthy than Columbia TV.
The little four-year-old boy poked his omelet with a fork. He raised his fork high above his head.
"Dad, I want to go to the Moon."
Brad smiled and rubbed the little guys head.
"One day you will. Our president is going to make our country great again! When you grow to be as tall as me, going to Mars will be as easy as going to Hawaii Remember to bring your dad some souvenirs from Mars."
The little boy blinked and nodded.
Julia smiled, and she shook her head and continued to eat her salad.
She didnt care if America became great again.
She just hoped it wouldnt become worse.
Most Americans worries were coming to life.
Ever since the success of the Pangu fusion reactor, energy costs in China had sharply decreased.
Satellite control room.
Three days before Skyglows launch, observation satellites in orbit had been pointed at Jinling. Now, this "annoying" spacecraft was inching toward the Moon.
Aiden stared at the green dot on the screen and muttered under his breath, "Were just going to sit on the sideline and watch them?"
The NASA director stared at him.
Aiden was pissed off.
"We should take some countermeasures."
The NASA director ignored the CIA official and looked at his assistant.
"Hows the life support system at Space-X?"
The assistant immediately said, "Theyre in the testing phase."
"How long is the testing going to take?"
The assistant paused for two seconds and quickly said, "Due to the landing window on Mars and other factors, our colonists must live there for two years Of course, the testing wont take that long. According to Elon, it will take nine months."
"We cant wait for nine months." The NASA director shook his head and stared at the green dot on the radar. "The Chinese are catching up to us. We have to put the Ares project on the highest priority."
He took a deep breath and spoke to his assistant.
"Listen, contact Elon Musk for me and ask if he can shorten the testing time. I know this is difficult, but we need a victory; a victory that we can give to Congress!"
The assistant took a deep breath and spoke.
"Sir What do you mean by victory?"
The NASA director spoke with a poker face.
"Deliver life support systems to Mars within six months.
"If the Chinese think that they have caught up to us just by walking on the Moon, then we have to tell them and our fellow Americans how insignificant their achievement is!"