How China became a space superpower silently ?
In the 90s, it was Russia. Today, China is arguably one of the biggest contenders in space program and they’re giving the US a run for their money. How exactly did China become one of the leading countries that can compete head to head with virtually the biggest players in the space business? That and more is exactly what we’ll be talking about in today’s video. Before we get to it, If you’re new to the channel, please subscribe to ‘FuturePhile’ to watch more fascinating videos on futuristic tech. A few decades ago when Russia and the US are at loggerheads as to who will be the master of space, it seems china wanted nothing to with it. However, today, China is taking the world by storm as they’re launching rockets upon rockets with a relatively high ratio of success, greater than what the world has ever experienced. How have they managed to achieve such a feat within such a relatively small amount of time? A lot of details will have to be dug into, but first, let’s take a look at where the country stands now in terms of space investments compared to the US. It’s estimated that around 3 billion dollars are being spent to fund China’s space program, which makes a fraction of the U. S. NASA budget in 2016 which was reported at around 19. 3 billion. Two of the world’s richest men Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, who happen to be American, are already investing large amounts of money to send rockets and robots to Mars, but it seems like Xi Jinping’s government might beat them to it. Blue Origin owned by Amazon mogul – Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk’s SpaceX is ahead of the game when it comes to colonizing space. March 30 is the date of the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. And it looks like China’s proclaiming that by 2030 it will win the race with the US. Chinese tech companies are leaning toward breakthroughs in modern technologies like aerospace, artificial intelligence, robotics, and big data analytics. Maybe the future belongs to our Asian friends but we’ll have to wait and see. But what drives the Chinese people to these ambitious heights?It may seem like the only goal is to boost the Chinese morale at home and abroad, but it’s clear that privately backed space startups are providing a substantial benefit for the backers. Now it seems like NASA feels pressured to compete with the ongoing Chinese space fever. If the Chinese government beats the race it would be the first time in history, that a Chinese astronaut enters orbit. The steady growth shows that in 2016, China launched more rockets than Russia, exactly the same as the US that year- 22. This is a substantial improvement for the CNSA and they seem to put out just important milestones without any radical mistakes. Among those missions was Shenzou 11, a rocket that carried a crew of two to dock with China’s Tiangong 2 spacecraft. This served as a stepping stone for the Chinese space station in early 2020. Experts say that this kind of behavior is purely for prestige: “It’s escaping what they would call the domination of the West and the U. S. It’s a way to assert China’s independence and a return to the global stage. ”, Dr James Lewis, senior vice president at the Centre for Strategic and International studies says. Even if historically, the space program has been state-driven to prove the nation’s technological prowess, it looks like it could pay economic dividends as well. According to the “Unicorn list” which refers to the companies worth over 1 billion dollars, China is home to 43 start-ups worth at least 1 billion, and it looks like President Xi expressed a desire to see more of them, especially if they have something to do with information technology and network-related business. The signs within and outside of the Chinese government are clear: there seems to be a consensus about the benefit to both the private and state-owned sector. This would catalyze technological breakthroughs that will lift China’s global standing and save its slowing economy. The main investors in China’s space program seem to be hedge funds and universities. Two of the start-ups OneSpace that launched a vehicle in 2018 and ExPace founded early last year plan to rent out their Kauizhou rocket to those looking to loft small satellites into orbit. And another, Landspace, launched in 2015, plans to conduct it’s first commercial launch this year. Still, these companies can’t be compared to SpaceX or Blue Origin for the sole reason of being tied to the government. The Kuaizhou rocket is apparently based on the launcher for Chinese anti-satellite weapons and missile defense interceptors, while Landspace’s rocket is based on the government’s Long March 11 rocket. It might be just a way into the market since the ambitions of OneSpace seem to be planning the development of a manned space capsule and Landspace is reportedly going for a far more powerful liquid-fueled rocket that could be a match for SpaceX or Blue Origin. This private-sector push could allow companies to tinker and ideally improve government designs, but beyond rocket hardware, China is pushing a major boost in spending on space science programs that will challenge firms to develop new materials, sensors, and other technologies. The current five-year-long plan, already in use in 2020, calls for five major space exploration projects. These include a dark matter seeking satellite that launched in December 2015 and an experimental quantum communications satellite that launched last year, that could lead to significant breakthroughs in communications and cryptography. Besides, the mere fact that China now has robotic eyes floating in space means they now have a clear view of the Earth and plenty of data. Dr Alanna Krolikwoski, a post-doctoral research fellow at the China Institute at the University of Alberta says: “These programs are part of a comprehensive, deliberate, long-term strategic vision for economic and societal transformation. What’s needed is actually new drivers of growth, and those have to come from services, from innovation, from essentially becoming an economy that’s more similar to an advanced industrialized economy”. Companies in the United States like Planet Labs, Digital Glob, Spaceknow, and Orbital Insight already gather and sell valuable satellite images to companies around the world, and now, China could use the same strategy, by utilizing the equivalent to GPS – BeiDou satellites. China clearly isn’t wasting any time and their desire to prove themselves as worthy opponents seems to be the driving force of these endeavors. Through its own investment, China is becoming a valuable opponent to the States in managing satellite data. It will be interesting to see the development of the situation especially since the Chinese backers don’t have to answer to a specific entity. Their investments are privately handled and that means they can do whatever they want. All in all, we can see a clear upward trajectory for both China’s rockets and its space-related ventures. It’s clear that as time passes we will be seeing a significant improvement in China’s technological fares. It seems that copying is the greatest form of flattery but it’s also a very safe path to success. In fact, the new strategy heavily reminiscent of the Longmarch in the Chinese civil war makes us think of incredible outcomes such as China actually beating everyone and coming to Mars first. If we remember, communists under Mao Tse Tung used this tactic to retreat, when they were under attack and reform to come back stronger and more equipped. This leads them to eventually win the war. It’s not unreasonable to think that a similar kind of development could lead to a successful venture into space. China just might beat everyone with silent and resilient efforts, just like in the Chinese civil war. Even if the competitors are outside of China, it looks like the unified approach to space technologies and developments might be a force major in China’s space tactic. It remains to be seen if the U. S. fragmented approach consisting of various private space companies and a government-funded one is going to sustain under the rising pressure imposed from their biggest threat in reaching Mars first. Whoever is your favourite, we can definitely conclude that it’s an exciting time we live in and that whoever wins the race will do so in benefiting the entire race, not just the country of origin. Still, it seems that China’s biggest fuel seems to be national pride and a sense of gaining independence from the pioneering clutches of the Western forces. This is definitely an important thing for countries that have through history felt threatened by western ideologies. We can just hope that the future holds a fair competition without conflicts that could lead us into some kind of cosmic third world war. Jokes aside, whenever big forces try to pioneer in a field there’s a lot of emotion at hand and where there’s emotion… Things can get out of hand. So we can just hope that space people are led by their brains and not hearts. We don’t want any kind of space conflict, intergalactic warfare, or nuclear space weapons! If you liked this video, you may also enjoy this next video on How Spacex builds starships so quickly – that is shown in the end screen . See you there.