China’s growing space power

Ah, the contrast between the U.S. and Chinese space programs. The Space Shuttle is due to be retired next year, even as budget pressures intensify for its Constellation/Ares successor.  Meanwhile, China continues to forge ahead with plans for a lunar rover by 2012, a manned space station by 2020, and a taikonaut on the Moon shortly after that.  It’s tempting to read this as a tale of two empires—one rising and the other in decline.  But I’ve got a funny feeling that should the Chinese actually get hardware onto the lunar surface, the U.S. space program might receive the kick in the ass that’s been so long overdue. After all, the only reason we got to the Moon in the first place was because Sputnik scared us shitless.  It’s a little sad that when you get down to it, the best reason for getting into space we’ve ever managed to find is that the other guy is doing it. . . . but the coming space race is likely to be a lot more intense than the one that occurred during the Cold War, because this time each side has the capability to field maturing space weaponry. China’s antisat test from two years back still reverberates, while the U.S. directed energy weaponry program continues to make strides.

But the next few years are likely to be all China’s, and the contrast between the two publics couldn’t be more stark.  Space launches over there are big news, whereas here they’re pretty much a non-event, unless something blows up or astronauts die.  And China has the added advantage of not having to worry about civilian vs. military coordination—the Chinese space program integrates the two (an advantage of dictatorships).  Ironically, right now the U.S. is in a similar position to pre-modern Ming China back in the 14th century, when they scrapped their vast exploration fleets to focus on internal considerations.  Indeed, there’s (disputed) evidence that China reached America first . . . just as centuries from now, it might seem like a curiosity of history that Americans walked on the Moon decades before China set up shop there permanently.

One Response to “China’s growing space power”

  1. Evalinsapple Says:

    I’ve read several places that China has a superior number of alien alliances than the U.S. or any other major country.

    I sympathize with communism because in a universe where we are in constant fear of the unknown and Arabic control, we need a strong military funded by government ran industry. It’s the only way to survive.

    That being said, I believe in a strong Hong Kong to counter balance it. But from where I live (on the edge grin) you can hear the sound of nonstop ground level war.

    I’m starting a blog about my love affair with Mao and China. I’ll keep you posted on where to find it when it comes out.