Is China Catching the U.S. in Space? [Space Politics]
While the coming launch of the Chinese Shenzhou-9 crewed capsule to rendezvous with the Tiangong-1 orbiting lab may fuel concern among some that the United States is falling behind China in space, two recent policy documents put the Chinese advances in context, Space Politics reports.
“China’s Evolving Space Capabilities: Implications for U.S. Interests,” a paper prepared by the Project 2049 Institute for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, says “China’s relative advances are significant” and its leaders “view space as a national priority and therefore direct significant resources toward the country’s space-related technology base,” but notes that China faces possible coordination issues because space policy is spread out among numerous government entities.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Defense Department’s annual report on China’s military capabilities suggests that the country’s space programs “are facing some challenges in systems reliability,” citing last year’s failure of a Long March 2C launch and recent problems with the DFH-4 communications satellite platform.