We found out if China’s space program can surpass NASA:
Can China’s Space Program Overtake NASA
In the summer of 2019, a small Chinese rocket was launched from a cosmodrome in the southern part of the country. Close-up photos later posted on Chinese social media showed small lattice wings attached to the top of the rocket. Their design was almost identical to the lattice wings used by SpaceX to fly its Falcon 9 rocket.Can China’s space program overtake NASA
A year after that test, a major Chinese space contractor announced plans to develop the ability to reuse its Long March 8 rocket powered by kerosene, just like SpaceX’s booster rockets. The rocket will be able to land on an offshore platform by 2025, like SpaceX’s Falcon 9, according to Chinese officials.
And Chinese government contractors aren’t the only ones imitating SpaceX. A growing number of Chinese semi-private companies are also announcing plans to develop reusable missiles. Chinese companies like LinkSpace and Galactic Energy have revealed plans that appear to mimic SpaceX’s technology. Can China’s space program overtake NASA
None of this should be particularly surprising. State-owned companies in Russia and Europe also recently unveiled plans to develop reusable rockets similar in appearance and functionality to the Falcon 9.
But China’s efforts to emulate SpaceX deserves special attention – the country has huge ambitions in space and huge resources. Can China’s space program overtake NASA
Earlier this month, the Chinese government signed a cooperation agreement with Russia to build a base on the moon. China has also begun planning to send a crew to Mars and launch a large industrial-scale space solar power plant by 2050. The Asian economic giant looks to the long term and plays to win.
Given China’s recent advances in space, it would be prudent to take these grandiose ambitions seriously. In December, China became the third country to successfully deliver lunar soil to Earth. Later this spring, it will seek to join the United States as a second country to land and operate a rover on the surface of Mars. Can China’s space program overtake NASA
Meanwhile, China is pursuing a range of other space goals, from building an orbiting space station to developing anti-satellite capabilities in space and establishing a base on the moon.
As China progresses through space, NASA has spent more than $ 20 billion on a large Space Launch System rocket that may soon be obsolete. And launching this single-purpose rocket is so expensive that when combined with the Artemis program, NASA could exceed Congressional funding by more than 43%. Can China’s space program overtake NASA
NASA could also leave the International Space Station within a few years. Meanwhile, China is teaching European astronauts Chinese so they can visit their large modular space station. Some of them may later join the Sino-Russian lunar exploration.
Space Industry Commercialization
America’s main advantage over China is increasingly in the growing commercialization of the space industry, led by SpaceX. If the US wants to compete, it must unleash the full potential of SpaceX and other commercial space companies that want to get into space faster and cheaper.
A similar public-private partnership is already operating in low Earth orbit, with NASA buying services from companies such as SpaceX, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing to deliver cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station. Can China’s space program overtake NASA
This is one of the reasons China began supporting dozens of companies in the commercialization of rockets and satellites about five years ago. Thus, the 21st-century space race is not so much a race between China and NASA, but rather between the Chinese and American commercial space industries.
Almost a decade ago, SpaceX gained international prominence for the successful landing of its Falcon 9 rockets – an engineering feat that many previously thought was impossible or unattainable. While rocket boosters have been thrown into the ocean in the past after they ran out of fuel en route to orbit, SpaceX has figured out how to land them vertically on offshore and onshore platforms, allowing the company to rebuild and repair rockets and save money.
The company then fused three Falcon 9 cores to build a larger and much more powerful rocket called the Falcon Heavy. The company is currently testing an even larger reusable booster, Starship, designed to transport people to Mars and back. Can China’s space program overtake NASA
In late February, China showed remarkably similar space plans. The National Space Agency has announced that it will build a rocket that will resemble the SpaceX Falcon Heavy. He also reaffirmed his intention to improve the Long March 9 rocket capable of delivering up to 140 tonnes into low orbit, the same as the Saturn V rocket, a super-heavy launch vehicle that remains the most powerful rocket ever successfully flown. Can China’s space program overtake NASA
However, this massive rocket is unlike anything NASA is building; Chinese officials, following SpaceX’s lead, have said they would like it to be reusable. They added that they plan to one day launch Long March 9 to take my taikonauts to Mars.
The United States and China are waging an increasingly intense struggle for influence and economic resources on Earth. This conflict, which has already erupted in low Earth orbit, will spread to the Moon and possibly Mars in the coming decades.