Guilhem Penent makes excellent arguments in his article “U.S. Opportunity in Asia Is Not Strategy” [Commentary, March 4, page 19], but I would differ slightly with two of his points.
First, while history does support his premise that international cooperation provides increased stability and consistency for human spaceflight (e.g. the international space station), only commercialization can provide the market demand necessary for true long-term sustainability. Otherwise, it is just a prolonged stunt. Hopefully, international cooperation will provide the bridge that allows commercialization to take over and succeed.
Second, while Mr. Penent is certainly correct regarding the overreaction to China (or any other country) repeating 40-year-old NASA accomplishments, the fear is not that they will repeat and then leave, but that they will use 40 years of technology advancement to go and stay. It’s hard to measure the psychological impact to a society of looking up at the Moon, for perhaps a decade or more, and knowing the only inhabitants are your country’s leading economic rival. Then again, maybe that’s just the kick in the rear the U.S. needs.