US-China Rivalry On Space Explorations Intensifies; US In Danger Of ‘Falling Behind’

By J Russ I. , Oct 17, 2016 04:14 AM EDT

The rivalry between the U.S. and China in becoming a country leading in space exploration just intensified. If the current situation remains, the latter will undoubtedly overtake the former in the coming years.

The latest development on China's space exploration is their recent launching of the Shenzhou-11 into orbit from an isolated military location in Inner Mongolia. The vessel is manned by two taikonauts and is set to rendezvous with a space lab that was launched last September, according to the Mirror.

Experts Warn That US Is In Danger Of Falling Behind

Former NASA astronaut and four-flight space veteran, Leroy Chiao, warns that China is "on the rise and the U.S. is in very real danger of falling behind in the future." And this warning has a great weight to it.

As the ISS is scheduled to retire in 2024, it seems that China will be the only nation left that will have an active space station come that time. It can be remembered that the U.S. has banned China in 2011 from entering the ISS due to issues on national security despite allowing 15 other countries access to it.

Should the nation impose the same restriction on the U.S. when their station is finally complete, it could slow America's advancement in space exploration. But this restriction is still uncertain as China has allowed Chiao to visit the Astronaut Center of China numerous times in the past.

Currently, China sits in second place with regards to the number of times a country conducted launches successfully. Last year, the nation sent out 19 spacecraft into orbit and is poised to launch at least 20 more this year.

The U.S., on the other hand, is relying on Russian spacecraft to send astronauts into orbit as its space shuttle program has ended in 2011. But this isn't to say that the U.S. is being complacent about the whole situation.

In 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated that America has allocated $40 billion to its space budget. China comes in second with a well-behind number of $13 billion.

China To Colonize The Moon By 2030

Obama has also reinvigorated his call upon the U.S. to send humans to Mars. He revealed plans between government agencies and private companies in creating habitats that could sustain life on the red planet and other initiatives that will strengthen their foothold in the space race.

But China is on America's heels. Despite coming into play when it comes to the space program, the country is quickly catching up using what Chinese experts call the "latecomer's advantage" - exploiting the most current technological breakthrough to leap the gaps between them and its western rival.

One of China's most ambitious initiatives is sending a robotic mission to the dark side of the moon, said NBC. The culmination of this project is to apparently place astronauts there by 2030 with a paramount goal of colonizing Earth's natural satellite.

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