When I was growing up I was a huge Star Trek fan because it captured the imagination of a universe beaming with life. Star Trek of course is purely entertainment but its fans are constantly being reminded of all that is unknown in the outer-limits of space and time.
The ability to zigzag through space with ease is purely science fiction but it can also be a reflection of our human potential.
The Chinese have a saying, “today may be filled with difficulties and tomorrow’s difficulties may be even greater. But, the day after, tomorrow, difficulties will be overcome with ease.” This saying is a reflection of human progress through our human potential.
The amount of money China is spending on developing new technologies is surpassing what the US government is spending on its space program.
The United States has been striping its funding for NASA. In 2012 our government allocated approximately 0.48 of our federal budget for NASA’s research and development.
China on the other hand has invested over a Trillion Yuan in order to outpace and surpass the United States in Space. In 2012 China launched four spy satellites while the US launched two. China has set sights on building their own space station by 2022. They also want to have the first female astronaut walk on the moon by 2025.
The United States does not have a manned spacecraft and the only way for American Astronauts to reach the International Space Station is by hitching a ride with the Russians. The private firm ‘Space X’ is currently working on a spacecraft that will be able to transport our American Astronauts to the International Space Station. This was something NASA was able to do routinely.
It would seem that China is now moving into its golden era of space exploration. This of course is going to have wide repercussions and America will soon find itself lagging far behind China for dominance in Space.
China has young and highly motivated professionals running their space program with clear objectives and the resources to reach their goals.
The United States once prided itself on beating the Russians in the space race. Perhaps we need that same enthusiasm and determination to outpace the Chinese.
It would appear also that China is trying to trump the US which relies heavily on spy satellites for gathering intelligence, and reconnaissance, in order to target strategic threats throughout the world. Dominance in outer-space will provide China with a vast resource of intelligence gathering for its military.
Not in the far distant future, China, may pose a significant threat from space by destroying other countries satellites in order to win wars on the ground.
(Note: I do not see China as an imminent threat to our National Security but they can certainly become a future threat if they achieve their technological objectives.)
China is achieving their goals in far less time than it took the United States. They are also reaching their milestones by avoiding the mistakes we in America made in our race for space dominance against the Russians.
Great Britain sees China’s endeavor to reach for the stars not as a threat but as an opportunity to build better relations with them. The British Government has invested $80 Billion in a joint effort in space exploration with China and India.
The Indian Government just recently launched a satellite to Mars.
The United States should follow Britain’s lead by building better relations with the Chinese with joint Space projects. The International Space Station is an example of what can be accomplished following the cold war with the Russians. Joint space projects between the US and China can lead not only to better relations but towards greater trust between our two nations.
Perhaps joint space explorations between China and the US can become a leading symbol of peace not just for our generation but for future generations.
- Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
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