The recent U.S. conflict with China over mystery objects in the sky is a reminder that we are in an economic and political rivalry with the Communist nation, one that extends into space, as Lisa Fletcher reports.
The December splashdown of the most powerful rocket NASA has ever made, Artemis, was the successful conclusion to a mission laying the groundwork to take Americans back to the moon and beyond.
And while Artemis has fortified U.S. resolve to go back to the lunar surface, the real question is, what do you do when you get there?
Because our biggest rival is putting a tremendous amount of energy into launching a new space station, building bigger rockets, and developing plans that make ours seem a little small.
Peter Garretson: There’s really no area that China is not seeking to eclipse the United States. And, of course, military is one as well.
Retired Air Force Colonel Peter Garretson spent a good part of his military career thinking about space as a strategic planner. He’s now with the American Foreign Policy Council think tank. His new book is called The Next Space Race.
Lisa: What does the average American need to be aware of in terms of China’s activity in space?
Garretson: So I think the first thing is just to realize how different it is this time than the last space race. So the last space race really was for a global audience, and it was about prestige. It was about getting somewhere first. And this time, it’s completely different. This time, it’s about building an industrial supply chain that is going to affect economic power, you know, for two centuries to come, and probably will affect our children and grandchildren much sooner.
In the first space race, it was the U.S. versus the Soviets – a Russia-led union of communist countries. This time, our rival is the Chinese. But one element has stayed the same — it’s all about who’s first. And China has made no secret of its intentions. It sees the moon and space as a resource to exploit, prioritizing mining the moon for minerals and water and nearby asteroids for metal elements so critical to the world’s high-tech products, from defense to computers. It’s also designing giant satellites to capture enough solar energy to power our planet and developing space-to-ground weapons systems.
Read More: China’s Plans for the Moon Include Mining for Conflict Minerals, Solar Energy, Possible Military Use, and More