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Chinese astronauts wave before the launch of the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft

China’s expanding space program

  • China is the only power with a long-term commitment to a manned space program
  • It is testing antisatellite weapons and developing plans for a lunar base
  • U.S. complacency about its current technological lead would be ill-advised
  • Chinese advances will spur Asian rivals to cooperate or develop their own programs

Of countries with ambitions in near-Earth orbit and beyond, China is most likely to succeed in establishing a permanent human presence outside our home world. The accomplishments of China's rapidly expanding space program will in turn inspire other powers to either collaborate or compete. These new endeavors in space will have important ramifications on Earth, as major states jockey for position on humanity's final frontier.

Those who minimize Chinese achievements point out that these successes came long after technological breakthroughs by the United States and the Soviet Union. There is some rationality to this line of thinking. China first sent a manned mission into space in 2003 – over four decades after the Soviet Union and the U.S. Nevertheless, China is only the third country in the world to launch human beings into orbit through its own independent efforts.

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 Brendan O’Reilly
By the late 2020s, China may be operating the only manned space station in Earth's orbit
read more about it in the report
What's inside
  • China is the only power with a long-term commitment to a manned space program
  • It is testing antisatellite weapons and developing plans for a lunar base
  • U.S. complacency about its current technological lead would be ill-advised
  • Chinese advances will spur Asian rivals to cooperate or develop their own programs
Who will benefit?
  • Report is targeted to the decision makers in cross country manufacturing – suppliers, manufacturers, logistics.
  • Also considered useful for the administrative university facilities, to better understand the possibe effects of current decisions.
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