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By Grant Anderson, P.E. is the President ; CEO of Paragon Space Development Corporation
America must come to grips with China’s multi-decade ascendency as a global power.
On land, sea, cyber and space, Communist China’s aspirations are sizeable, single-mindedness
clear and concerning. China is pursuing dominance, not membership in a club, especially in
space. America needs to turbo-charge our commitment to space leadership – or lose to China.
China has regularly recorded major accomplishments, set new milestones, and conducted
a series of firsts – from anti-satellite testing and new launch options to un-crewed lunar missions,
even pioneering the backside of the moon. Moreover, China aims to establish a new human
presence in orbit, then grubstake the moon. The impact of these developments should give
Americans great pause – and is why we must put partisanship aside, unify around space, and act.
China’s pace and current trajectory could outstrip us in a few short years.
In 2021, China is poised to expand orbital presence, satellite and anti-satellite
sophistication, un-crewed (and soon crewed) moon landings, all leading to deeper space and
lunar permanence. As recently as January 7 th 2021, credible media reporting indicated China is
set to launch three big missions to construct a Chinese space station. Space News reported, the
“China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) is finalizing work on rockets which
will launch the first space station module, a cargo and refueling craft and a crewed mission.”
Additionally, “The launches will be first of 11 planned missions to construct a three-
module Chinese space station,” and this “activity marks the beginning of the end phase of a
project approved in 1992 to develop human spaceflight capabilities and establish a long-term
crewed presence in low Earth orbit.” China also has a packed space launch schedule – an orbital
itinerary with 40 launches – while also developing next generation rocket engines, including for
planetary missions. China’s first un-crewed mission to Mars is scheduled to reach the planet in
May of this year.
China’s 2021 space focus tells us a lot – and should reinvigorate the entire US space
program, from near earth and deep space missions, to security and defense, to science and the
environment. Importantly, their moves are not just to win in space, but to command the heights,
and solidify their gains – with direct impact on free peoples. They aspire to become the
alternative to the US and the free world. Remember, China sees things through the lens of
military and political cross-fertilization. No accomplishment is without linkage to Communist
propagation, single-party rule and security advantage.
As a result, anyone who cares about the future of America and the free world must realize
that space is both a direct and surrogate, unavoidable, and highly relevant domain in which our
own future national security – and global security – will be decided. Loss of position on critical
space-related fronts will have direct effects on the free, or yearning to be free, people of Earth.
Certainly, space must remain a domain of peace, cooperation, scientific discovery, and positive
human advancement – but we have real competitors and adversaries in space. China leads that
With this in mind, America must press with commitment to land citizens on the Moon –
and soon. We must understand the stakes, China’s longer range aims, and our national interests.
We must see that space dominance protects – as loss of it imperils – our nation’s critical
interests. Our freedom, security and the world stability depend, more than we like to admit, on
what happens in space. Accordingly, the American public, industry, and policymakers should be
focused, casting aside illusions, seeing that China’s eyes are on space – where ours should be.
-- Grant Anderson, P.E. is the President ; CEO of Paragon Space Development Corporation, a
recognized leader in life support and thermal control in extreme environments. He holds a B.S.
in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering from