Article by Kristin Huang November 26, 2020 (scmp.com)
• With the launch of China’s Chang’e-5 lunar spacecraft and Beijing’s first lunar mission to bring Moon rock samples back to Earth, US Space Force General John Raymond remarked that China was a threat that could block American access to space, and that the US had to strengthen ties with its allies to handle the “threat” from China and Russia over space.
• Meanwhile, a successful mission would make China just the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, after the US and the former Soviet Union. Xu Hongliang, secretary general of China’s National Space Administration, told a space aviation forum on Wednesday that there were more Chang’e missions to come and China was planning to build an international research station on the Moon. Xu also said China would explore small celestial bodies, retrieve samples from Mars and pass by Jupiter and back again. Said Xu, “[W]e welcome international space agencies to participate in China’s future lunar and deep-space exploration cooperation.”
• The space rivalry between the world’s largest two economies is heating up. Beijing has been planning to build its own space station for decades as an alternative to the International Space Station, from which China has been excluded by the US because of security concerns.
• US officials say that China and Russia show threatening behavior regarding space. Raymond referred to an incident in 2007 when China hit and destroyed a disused Chinese weather satellite, testing its own missile capabilities. Until then, space had been considered a “benign domain,” but it was now it is contested. “China and Russia caused this shift in the strategic environment,” said Raymond. China and Russia’s capabilities include jamming of GPS and communication satellites, and directed energy and kinetic destruction of US assets via missiles on the ground.
• Raymond noted that “space really underpins … all of our instruments of national power. [I]t provides huge economic opportunity, scientific opportunity and military opportunity”, and that the US is eager to enhance ties with its allies… in space.” “We have to have different space architectures and we have to have partnerships,” Raymond said. “We’ve got to make sure that we stay ahead of this growing threat.”
• In the first nine months of 2020, China has sent 29 satellites into space – two more than the US. But observers say that China is still lagging behind the US, as private companies such as SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin have taken the industry lead.
• China has grappled with launch failures. An optical remote-sensing satellite failed to enter its preset orbit in September, following another failed launch two months earlier, the Kuaizhou-11 commercial solid rocket, with two satellites on board. China also had satellite launch failures in March and April.
Rivalry between China and the United States in space exploration has reached new heights, with a US general saying China was a threat that could
block American access to space.
Just days after the launch of Beijing’s first lunar mission to bring samples back to Earth, US Space Force General John Raymond said the United States had to strengthen ties with its allies to handle the “threat” from China and Russia over space.
Raymond’s comments came as the head of the Chinese space administration said the nation would launch more lunar probes and invite other countries to join China on its missions.
The China-US space rivalry intensified after a Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang’e-5 lunar spacecraft blasted off from Wenchang, Hainan province, on Tuesday morning.
In the first mission of its kind by any country in more than 40 years, the 8-tonne spacecraft comprises four components designed to bring samples back to Earth.
If the mission is successful, it would make China just the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, after the US and the former Soviet Union. But China’s space ambitions do not stop there.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. ExoNews.org distributes this material for the purpose of news reporting, educational research, comment and criticism, constituting Fair Use under 17 U.S.C § 107. Please contact the Editor at ExoNews with any copyright issue.