China is Rushing to Dominate the 21st Century Space Race

Jun 30, 2019 | China, Gov, News

Chang’e 3 On The Moon | Courtesy of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

The Chang’e-4 lunar landing is just but the first of the many victories China has set its eyes upon in the race to dominate space.

A Triumphant Landing

While everyone is starting out their new year with sets of resolutions they would likely to abandon in the coming months, China has kicked off 2019 with something incredible that no other nation has ever yet done before.

On January 3 of this year, China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced that it has successfully landed its moon lander, Chang’e-4 on the far side of the moon. Through history, many probes have been launched but ended up crash-landing onto this far-reaching side of the Earth’s lone satellite.

The so-called “dark side of the moon” is the lunar hemisphere that never faces Earth because of the moon’s rotation. But technically, this side receives the same amount of sunlight as with the other Earth-facing side.

Chang’e’s accompanying rover, the Yutu-2, or Jade Rabbit-2 carries with it a host of scientific instruments required to complete the mission to study the moon’s interior structure. It also carries precious cargoes needed to conduct certain biological experiments.

For China and for the rest of the world, the spacecraft’s successful lunar touchdown is seen as a huge and historic milestone in space exploration.

Chang’e-4 – First complete Moon panorama | CLEP

A Series of Setbacks

With the moon goddess and her trusted companion, the jade rabbit, already in place, China’s future amongst the stars have become clearer and brighter than ever. But there have been setbacks, of course.

CNSA suffered a series of rocket failures in the past few years. In 2016, the Long March 5 and its communications satellite payload crashed into the ocean before it could even reach the earth’s orbit.

In 2018, the Tiangong-1 crash-landed back to earth after losing its transmission link to the Chinese space agency. The space mission, which translated to English as Heavenly Palace, was a prototype space station. The destruction was witnessed throughout the globe where it ended over the South Pacific seas.

Through all these apparent failures, the world is slowly becoming aware of China’s commitment to developing its aerospace industry.

Strategies to Win

China’s space race strategy is basically rooted in its hopes to elevate this sector to a whole new level. And they did so by putting serious investments in domestic space programs.

The Xi Jinping administration, in particular, has made the country’s long-term mission to dominate space a priority for the Communist Party of China. CCP, with its party leader, the Chinese president himself, happens to have a say on the government’s funding and policy priorities.

To further help propel these plans, President XI Jinping went on to loosen the government’s monopoly on the development and manufacture of space launchers. In effect, this policy encourages domestic companies to freely compete with their Western counterparts such as Elon Musk’s Space-X, Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

In addition to this, Chinese tech companies are also investing heavily on foreign space industries. For instance, China’s Tencent Holdings has reportedly invested in Moon Express, an American space company who has ties with NASA (National Aeronautics Space Agency).

Chang’e-4 Landed on the Far Side of the Moon – Photo Series

Further Plans with the Chang’e Mission

At a press conference, government and CNSA officials announced three more missions that would follow after the Chang’e 4 lunar landing. These succeeding objectives would be to gather and return samples taken from the surface of the moon.

Chang’e 8, the agency’s upcoming mission is touted to build the first research base in the moon. This could also include building the first lunar houses using 3D printing technology.

Earth-bound, China is also shelling serious funds to develop and build a power station in the planet’s stratosphere by 2025. In the next 5 years, the Chinese space authorities would want to have a solar facility stationed in space.

Meanwhile, China is also brewing plans to build its own navigation system in space which would cut the country’s dependence on American GPS. These satellite systems are important for gadgets like smartphones and car navigation systems to function. Even more so, it is also used in the military as a way to control guided missiles. As of the moment, the US, through the US Air Force has the control to these satellites which probably make the Chinese government quite uncomfortable.

Reaching for the Stars

The future is in the stars, so they say, and China is already hard at work to find theirs. Chang’e 4’s successful moon landing manifests the country’s bold spirit and determination in winning the space race. Though it entered the race much rather later than its neighbors, it’s quite obvious that China has already gained that sweet momentum to actually win and dominate.

In a speech made by President Xi Jinping in 2013, he said, “The space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger.”

This historic achievement is China’s message to the world that whether by land, sea, or space, this country can never to be trifled with.

 

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