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China launches module for space station
Although experts see no explicit military function for the Chinese space station, the country’s other space-based military programs, including the destruction of a defunct Chinese satellite with a rocket in 2007, have caused alarm overseas.
“It is a nation doing its own thing saying, ‘OK, we can do what you did for our own country separate from cooperation, on Chinese terms,’” said Charles Vick, an expert on the Chinese space program with Globalsecurity.org, which tracks military and security news.
Numerous challenges lie ahead, including the attempt to dock remotely _ U.S. astronauts handled the maneuver from aboard their spacecraft. The Long March 5 rocket that is being prepared to launch the 20-ton modules for the actual space station also remains untested.
Still, Beijing is expected to press ahead whatever the difficulties as long as it continues to result in international prestige, domestic credibility, technological advancement, and economic spin-offs, Johnson-Freese and Vick said.
“Basically, they will get what they want regardless of how long or what it takes for the authoritarian state to accomplish the assigned tasks,” Vick said.
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