U.S. Rethinks Possible Competition with China in Space
June 20, 2012 6:01 PM
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China's recent successful manned mission has started a space race debate
Now that China has successfully completed its
first manned mission
, the United States is worried that it may be left behind when it comes to space-related endeavors.
China initially launched its Tiangong 1 prototype space station module in September 2011 and linked its Shenzhou 8 spacecraft to it in November. Earlier this month, China completed its first manned mission to Tiangong 1 using its Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, which contained the country's first female astronaut.
With so many firsts under China's belt, the U.S. is getting a little worried. Some scientists, such as lunar geologist Paul Spudis say that China could renounce the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which states that no one can claim national sovereignty in space. Spudis believes that potential resources on the moon, such as water, could tempt the country into renouncing the treaty.
There are also worries about the U.S. government's space program. While the U.S. has the private sector (SpaceX) taking care of space-related business for now, there are concerns regarding the private sector's ability to uphold the American space effort without the government's support. The U.S.' funding for the space program has been quite low, even to the point where NASA
urged Congress to provide the full $850 million
for commercial crew vehicle development last October.
However, the private sector has made strong contributions so far with SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule making its
first successful trip
to the International Space Station (ISS) last month.
Others aren't quite as worried about China's position in the space race. According to Jeff Foust, an aerospace analyst, journalist and publisher, China's space program could potentially face some issues with coordination because it is ran by many different government agencies instead of just one.
Regardless, China is now a member of the space race and the U.S. may be taking the new potential competitor into consideration.
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RE: Not even close
6/20/2012 11:00:15 PM
By some measures, we're still catching up to the Roman Empire. Whats the point in looking at the past?
In current capacity, China's already beat us. The Chinese state has the capacity to put men in to orbit. We do not.
The Chinese having a project underway to put men on the lunar surface. We did, but Obama cancelled it.
As for relative size of our economies, PPP is the relevant measure, by which it's roughly 11.3 trillion to 15.1. They're also outgrowing us by about 6% a year, which means that they'll overtake us by the end of this decade without breaking a sweat, unless we undertake profound government and regulatory reform, or unless they implode (not likely).
Furthermore, most of China's investment comes from its high domestic savings rate, which is recycled through banks; FDI (foreign direct investment) has been a boon, but FDI could fall to zero and China would still humm along just dandy. Don't underestimate the role of other countries investments there too, Europe is heavily invested in China. Germany's high-end manufacturing sector survives off selling China the machinery necessary to build us all of our... crap.
Not that China doesn't have a long way to go in per-capita income, you're right, but China is no little economy we can ignore. It could be the worlds largest within 5 years, easily, and by virtue of having a larger population, we'll probably never catch up.
"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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