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Sprinkles from the Left

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.57 minutes to read.

“Americans need to worry more about a rising and militarizing China than a revanchist Russia. The new space race helps illustrate why.

The Chinese didn’t put an astronaut into space until 2003, 42 years after the Soviets, but Beijing has been making cosmic strides…

Last month, China landed a rover on Mars — becoming the only nation besides ours to do so. Last September,the Chinese launched and recovered a spaceplane that spent two days in low-Earth orbit. In 2019, China became the first country to land a craft on the far side of the moon.

In April, the U.S. intelligence community’s annual threat assessment warned that “Beijing is working to match or exceed US capabilities in space to gain the military, economic, and prestige benefits that Washington has accrued from space leadership.”

This threat isn’t limited to the vacuum of space. China’s efforts must be viewed in the context of its ongoing genocide in Xinjiang, smothering of Hong Kong, saber-rattling against Taiwan and obstruction of independent investigations into the origins of the coronavirus.

Fortunately, most leaders in both U.S. political parties recognize the need to counter China and support our space program. In 2019, the Trump administration moved up by four years, to 2024, the timetable for returning astronauts to the moon. The Biden team embraces this aggressive, if underfunded, goal.”

James Hohmann, Washington Post

“Russia and China are looking hard at how they should allocate defense spending to contest the U.S. militarily… Near the top of both national shopping lists are military operations and assets in space… Most notably, the two nations agreed a few weeks ago to build a joint research station on the moon… What should the U.S. be doing?

First, Washington needs to clearly understand the strategic approach being taken by both of these rivals, who are now peer competitors, at least in space…

The fledgling U.S. Space Force, ridiculed in some quarters and mocked in a Steve Carell Netflix series, actually has broad bipartisan support, and must be part of a U.S. response. America needs a similarly small but elite U.S. Cyber Force to work alongside it to pool space efforts with allies, much as China and Russia intend to do. Washington also needs a coherent plan for private-public cooperation (fortunately for the West, there are no counterparts to Elon Musk in Russia); and to prioritize defense dollars for space.

As Russia and China come together to operate in the cosmos, their overall military and strategic cooperation will increase as well — with big potential effects here on planet Earth.”

James Stavridis, Bloomberg

Sprinkles from the Right

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.62 minutes to read.

“With the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) announcing plans to conduct over 40 orbital launches in 2021 with “the [Communist] Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core,” will the U.S. finally take the growing space threat from China as seriously as it should?

China aims to land on the moon and build a base there by the decade’s end. If its recent success at landing a rover on the moon’s far side is any indication, it’s advancing at a much quicker pace than we are. In fact, at the end of last year, the country planted the People’s Republic flag on the lunar surface and became the first country to execute robotic docking in lunar orbit.

These developments are troubling. The Pentagon has warned that China is building up an arsenal of space weaponry, and it is doing it quickly, putting American space infrastructure at a great disadvantage. The People’s Republic of China is explicitly looking to supersede America, and it seems willing to do anything it can to make that happen…

Congress must make sure that it allocates enough funds to protect against China and other adversarial nations that would like nothing better than to weaponize space against the U.S. Doing so will protect American security and ensure that NASA retains its position as the modern world’s preeminent space program.”

Robert Spalding, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute (published in National Review)

“For years, China’s government has stolen countless innovations in an attempt to close the gap in military superiority between itself and the United States. Much of this theft has revolved around space technology, which China sees as a critical component of future warfighting.

China’s advances in space are decades in the making. China has made significant strides, including becoming the first country to successfully land a rover on the dark side of the moon and advancing plans to create a joint moon base with Russia. Because of China’s determination to establish bases on the moon, many experts reasonably fear that China’s efforts soon will surpass the United States…

America does still lead in space, and the development of the U.S. Space Force is an important step… Most members of Congress understand what’s at stake, which is why a moon landing has become the priority of U.S. space policy. The U.S. plans an ambitious moon landing date of 2024 to stay ahead of China’s curve…

The United States can land on the moon before China and secure a base for future generations and our allies. This will happen only if President Biden’s new NASA head proceeds with equal measures of ambition and determination to realize U.S. strategic goals in space, scientific aims, and alacrity to the China threat.”

Bradley A. Thayer is the co-author of “How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics.” Lianchao Han is a Visiting Fellow at the Hudson Institute. He worked in the U.S. Senate for 12 years, as legislative counsel and policy director for three senators (published in The Hill)