Space Exploration

July 23, 2021 • Volume 31, Issue 26
Is a new global race inevitable?
By Val Ellicott


The Artemis program, NASA's ambitious plan to send humans back to the moon and then to Mars, remains intact after the change in presidential administrations — a rarity for the space agency. But the program appears increasingly unlikely to meet its 2024 deadline for landing astronauts on the lunar surface in preparation for a crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s. Meanwhile, other countries, most notably China, are sending robotic probes to the moon and Mars, spurring speculation that a new international space race is underway. The U.S. military increasingly views space as a future theater of war and has marshalled its resources — including the newly created U.S. Space Force — to counter Russian and Chinese development of anti-satellite weapons. The U.S. aerospace industry is also playing an increasingly important role, developing new rockets for the Artemis program and enabling NASA to end its reliance on Russia for transportation to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, several companies are competing to claim a dominant role in a fast-growing industry: space tourism.

An illustration of NASA's Ingenuity helicopter making the first powered flight by an aircraft on another planet (Getty Images/NASA)
NASA's Ingenuity helicopter made the first powered flight by an aircraft on another planet, Mars, in April. It is pictured here near NASA's robotic exploration vehicle, the Perseverance rover. The agency is part of what some experts say is a new space race as China and other countries also plan missions to Mars. (Getty Images/NASA)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Space Exploration
Jul. 23, 2021  Space Exploration
Feb. 21, 2020  The Mars Mission
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
Congress Actions
Defense Industry
General International Relations
Infectious Diseases
International Law and Agreements
Internet and Social Media
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Privatization of Government Functions
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union
Regulation and Deregulation
Space Sciences and Exploration