With plans germinating to launch a major new telescope and buzz that we possibly might make it to Mars by the 2030s, NASA has been no slouch lately. Thanks to commercial spacecraft like the SpaceX Dragon being capable of ferrying supplies and personnel to the International Space Station, we've proved that private space companies and America's own space division can work excellently together. But what about our working relationship with international space organizations, namely, China?
|Surely there must be enough space for the both of us...|
(Image courtesy alfegadragon.blogspot.com.)
Technologically robust and strongly motivated to maintain their space presence, the Chinese have both economic strength and political backing to escalate their space program to one of the best on (or off of) Earth. Despite NASA's slow-but-steady developments, their budget cuts don't show the inspiration that a nation like China harbors for its advanced scientific projects.
|A timeline of China's space endeavors. The last ten years have seen exponential improvement.|
(Image courtesy blog.thompsonreuters.com.)
According to Reuters, the Chinese are currently involved in a long-term project to achieve Asian sociopolitical dominance via their spacefaring. With a massive young workforce, coupled with significant long-term planning, the effort that China is putting in poses a real threat of unseating the United States from the title of earth's premiere space organization in coming years.
A fresh surge of American interest and cash is required to propel the US ahead in this modern space race. At Congress's U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on Wednesday, U.S. Naval War College professor Joan Johnson-Freese explained, "China right now is experiencing its Apollo years...China gets the funding its needs." If we pulled off a moon landing inside ten years with Apollo, think about what they'll soon be up to.
|Some of China's recent space initiatives, including their own space station.|
(Image courtesy spacetoday.org.)
Other experts on Chinese politics and technology agree: the U.S. must invest seriously in both civilian and military space programs to remain competitive this century. From satellites to cargo craft to long-term space missions, we cannot afford to lapse in developing one of the most exciting frontiers yet touched by man. How would NASA's original pioneers feel if we let "Red China" beat us to the Red Planet? Time will tell how such ambitions will play out. But nothing motivates the United States like a good bit of competition...
|If their space propaganda is anything to go by, this could get interesting...|
(Image courtesy chineseposters.net.)