It's irrefutable, said one political science professor from Georgia: China is moving full speed ahead with its race to space, while other nations — including the United States — have entered yawn status.
"[There] are unmistakable warning signs that China may surpass the United States and Russia to become the world's pre-eminent spacefaring power," said John Hickman of Berry College in Georgia in a recent Foreign Policy article.
For example: China's recent space mission, the piloted Shenzhou 10, "may determine the terms under which the spacefaring powers compete on the final frontier. ... For Washington to continue to ignore Beijing's resolute space policy doesn't mean there is no space race. It means that Beijing wins by default."
His opinion hardly stands alone.
An Apollo program professor of astronautics and professor health sciences and technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Laurence Young, believes similarly.
"My top line is that the Chinese are moving ahead aggressively on a human exploration program," he said in an NBC report. Soon enough, China will send humans to the moon for exploration.
"They have laid out what appears to be a more than reasonable, but nevertheless optimistic, plan," he said, as NBC reported. Moreover, he said, the Chinese have a recent string of successes that suggest their optimistic goals will be met.
Citing single-pilot missions to space walking, Mr. Young said that "everything they have been touting they have, in fact, made progress on."
And China's success rate has taken the space industry somewhat off guard, he said.
"To many of us," he said, as NBC reported, "it has been faster than we might have expected."
Mr. Hickman said that Washington decision-makers need to wake up.
"One of the underlying problems in U.S. space policy-making is the conviction based on the dominant Constructivist Theory of International Relations that the behavior of states is necessarily constrained by a consensus on international norms," he said, in Foreign Policy. "Some decision-makers in Washington are convinced that Beijing can be talked into accepting the leadership of Washington because it has been working to establish that consensus with the second-tier space powers."
China is staging in partnership with the United Nations a workshop on human space technology in Beijing from Sept. 16 to 20.
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