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New Space Race

- August 4, 2017
Is the U.S. falling behind Russia and China?
Featured Report

When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon in 1969, the United States was widely proclaimed the victor in the space race with the Soviet Union. Today, however, with the U.S. space shuttle program no longer in operation, NASA pays Russia to transport U.S. crews to the International Space Station and the Pentagon depends on Russian rocket engines to launch its military satellites into orbit. In addition, China's space program is growing rapidly, and U.S. officials worry it threatens American space assets, including military satellites. Policymakers also fear that U.S. satellites are at risk from accidental collisions. Meanwhile, NASA is planning for deep-space missions, even as some experts say these missions cost too much and the agency should rely more on private spaceflight companies. Other debates focus on whether the United States should return astronauts to the moon, as President Trump wants NASA to do in the next two years, and whether humans or robots should take the lead in exploring space.

Regulatory Debate

Some experts say the U.S. is lax in overseeing private-sector activities in space.

National Space Council

The revived council will oversee U.S. activities and policies in space.

1957–1969United States, Soviet Union compete for space firsts.
1970–1980U.S. pares space budgets.
1981–2010The space shuttle era brings successes, tragedies.
2008-PresentPrivate sector's role in space grows.

Should the private sector take over the management and design of U.S. space exploration from NASA?


Rick Tumlinson
Chairman, Deep Space Industries, and Founder, New Worlds Institute.


Scott Pace
Director, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University.


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