Space: Chinese Space Race


May 12, 2024: China has quietly expanded its presence in orbital space. Since 2018 China has tripled the number of satellites in orbit. China currently has over 700 satellites in orbit and plans to expand that to over 10,000 by the end of the decade. This is part of a larger plan to upgrade its entire military establishment to world class standards by 2049.

Orbital space operations and those beyond orbital space are now current rather than future goals. In addition to expanding the number of satellites in orbit, China also continues construction of its Tiangong space station, which is still under construction. Enough space station modules were in orbit by 2022 for the first three-man crew to occupy Tiangong. The space station will be expanded over the next decade with the addition of more modules and upgrades.

China has also been carrying out operations on the moon. The first Chinese moon landing in 2019 was unmanned and those landings continued in number and size. China plans to have a manned base on the moon by 2030.

Chinese activities on orbital space and on the moon are more ambitious than those of any other space-faring nation. The competition comes from the United States and Russia. The Americans could catch up because they have both government-funded NASA and privately funded SpaceX, which has been very innovative and ambitious. SpaceX is a commercial operation and does what its customers want, not what a government-controlled operation decides will happen. China has nothing like SpaceX but the government-run programs in China are trying to copy some of the SpaceX innovations.

China has also established an Aerospace Force to coordinate space operations. The speed and intensity of the Chinese expansion of their space activities is alarming to some nations. China has used these Great Leap Forward programs in the past and not all of them have succeeded. But if you don’t try you definitely won’t succeed.




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