China is ready for a space war

On this day in 1969, Americans Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon. They were the first of a select group of Americans to be the only humans to do so. Fast forward to more recent times: In May, the world saw the United States re-launch Americans into space with the launch of SpaceX to the International Space Station. Now, in just ten days, NASA will launch its Perseverance rover to Mars, the last of a fleet of American vehicles on the red planet. The historic anniversary of current Apollo 11 and NASA activities reminds us of both the dominant history of the United States and its current dynamism in space.

Below The strong leadership of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s long-awaited Commercial Crew Program (PCC) has materialized with the launch on May 30 of two NASA astronauts to the station and the subsequent success of the docking, which means the return of the United States to put people in space under their own flag. and not depend on the services of others, especially countries like Russia, which are strategic competitors. In addition, this return occurs with an acceptance of the dynamism of the free market. NASA is going out of business to put astronauts and material into low Earth orbit. NASA can not only buy these services at competitive market prices from American companies, spurring a new sector of the American economy, but can now focus on its highest national priority: expanding US access to deeper space. : the Moon, Mars and beyond.

This represents the next generational leap for NASA.—Apollo took the Americans to the moon, and the space shuttle consolidated the American leadership in building the International Space Station, but NASA was trapped in a low Earth orbit. By transitioning from Earth to the orbit of the taxi / cargo business to American commercial launchers, you can now take Americans to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. This major shift in NASA operations is lost in the media comments, coming at the same time that China’s space program has made great strides.

Chinese announcements arrive frequently—Chinese landing plans, Chinese crew on the moon, new Chinese space launchers, Chinese plans for a space station, and an upcoming Chinese launch to Mars. It all sounds impressive, but remember, as NASA has learned, it is easier to announce plans than to carry them out. Considering most of China’s ambitious plans, it’s worth noting that NASA has done all of that already, most decades ago.

  • China on the moon? Let’s look back forty years: NASA put Americans on the Moon on six manned missions between 1969 and 1972; and it’s sending Americans back by 2024, with a sustained American presence on the moon through the Artemis program by 2028. Overall, more than fifty missions to the Moon have failed, including recently by an Israeli company. While talking about the Moon is easy, getting to the Moon is difficult.

  • China’s plans for space launch?Putting its long history aside, the United States has revolutionized space launch in recent years through commercial and government launchers, with SpaceX (and others working on it) retaking the low-Earth orbit launch market and building the most successful launcher. The world’s heaviest, the Falcon Heavy, and NASA is building the Space Launch System, which will be the heaviest yet when it launches with a third more lift capacity in 2021.

  • A Chinese space station ? For twenty years, NASA turned the US space station Freedom into a US-led international coalition for the $ 100 billion International Space Station with Russia, Japan, Canada, and eleven members of the European Space Agency. The United States assumed more than half the total cost of its construction, including thirty-six space shuttle missions. It has been continuously manned for almost twenty years (it will be twenty years in November 2020), with 151 Americans (three times more than the next highest nation, Russia at about fifty).

  • A Chinese mission to Mars?NASA has had eight successful Mars landers / explorers (Viking I / II, Pathfinder, Spirit / Opportunity, Phoenix, Curiosity and InSight) and has launched at least six successful Mars orbiters, including some that have returned exquisite science on the planet: Mars Orbiter Reconnaissance (MRO) includes HiRISE (University of Arizona High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment: Powerful HIRISE camera takes images covering vast areas of Martian terrain while viewing features as small as a table Only two nations – the United States and the former USSR – have successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars (and the Soviet lander, Mars 3, failed twenty seconds after landing), and only four have launched into orbit with Spacecraft Success: United States, Former USSR, Europe Space Agency and India More than 28 missions to Mars have failed, and China will try again this year , having last attempted to reach Mars in 2011. Since then, with three rovers (Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity) and one scheduled for launch in July (Perseverance), Mars has been an American border. Getting to Mars is also difficult.

NASA runs the most comprehensivespace exploration program of the solar system, with more missions than the rest of the Earth combined. For a quick survey of the solar system, NASA’s Mariner 10 and MESSENGER spacecraft are the only missions that have explored Mercury, but the European Space Agency’s BepiColumbo is on the way. The United States and the USSR sent missions to explore Venus in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, followed by the European Space Agency and Japan in the 2000s. Mars has been largely an American border not only for its rovers but also for its orbiters, including Odyssey, Mars Express, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Orbiter Mission, MAVEN and Trace Gas Orbiter. Others are launching to Mars this year, with the UAE, India, and China sending missions that could join the Americans there. The only ten missions to Jupiter and Saturn have been American missions, although some required the participation of the European Space Agency, and the United States is the only nation that sends missions to Uranus and Neptune (Voyager 2) and Pluto (New Horizons).

As China is making new developments in space, NASA’s dominance in that region makes it the envy of the planet. In addition to its impressive history, NASA is currently executing over eighty-five active missions to explore the solar system, the Commercial Crew Program is now coming to fruition, is returning Americans to the moon, and developing the hardware to go loving You. This is happening in addition to NASA’s contributions to the US economy and education in the United States, which help defend continued investment in NASA and maintain NASA’s leadership over China and other competitors. strategic. As China continues its progress, Americans must remember their country’s historical, current, and future dominance in space. This context is important to remember, especially when it comes to China, that it is easier to plan a mission than to achieve the mission’s ultimate goal.

Shay Stautz ran for AZ Congressional District 2 in 2019–2020, and was the federal advocate for the University of Arizona (2006–2017), and holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.

Image: Reuters