New Space Race

August 4, 2017 • Volume 27, Issue 28
Is the U.S. falling behind Russia and China?
By Patrick Marshall

Introduction

U.S. astronaut Randy Bresnik, top, and fellow crew members (AFP/Getty Images/Dmitri Lovetsky)
U.S. astronaut Randy Bresnik, top, and fellow crew members from Russia and the European Space Agency depart for the International Space Station from a Russian-operated launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on July 28. The U.S. space program has depended heavily on Russian assistance since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. (AFP/Getty Images/Dmitri Lovetsky)

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.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Space Exploration
Aug. 04, 2017  New Space Race
Jun. 20, 2014  Search for Life On New Planets
Feb. 24, 2012  Space Program
Aug. 16, 2011  Weapons in Space
Oct. 16, 2009  Human Spaceflight
May 23, 2003  NASA's Future
Jul. 23, 1999  New Challenges in Space
Apr. 25, 1997  Space Program's Future
Dec. 24, 1993  Space Program's Future
Mar. 29, 1991  Uncertain Future for Man in Space
Jul. 31, 1987  Space Race
Feb. 07, 1986  Space Decisions after Challenger
Feb. 18, 1983  American Options in Space
Nov. 10, 1978  Changing U.S. Space Policy
Jul. 04, 1975  Cooperation in Space
Mar. 15, 1972  Space Shuttle Controversy
Oct. 01, 1969  Mission to Mars: Benefits Vs. Costs
Nov. 13, 1968  Goals in Space
Jun. 29, 1966  Future of Space Exploration
May 08, 1963  Moon Race Controversy
Jun. 27, 1962  Peaceful Use of Outer Space
Nov. 01, 1961  Space Exploration
Dec. 09, 1959  National Space Policy
Feb. 19, 1958  Control of Outer Space
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Arms Control and Disarmament
Congress Actions
General Defense and National Security
General International Relations
Powers and History of the Presidency
Space Sciences and Exploration