I tend to subscribe to this premise. Not just for China, but for the United States in the space industry generally. This is not to say our system is perfect. But by soliciting for and sponsoring new companies through contracts, NASA, with a paltry budget, fostered SpaceX’s activities and might have even helped in the company’s success. I don’t mean to say the contracts were paltry for SpaceX, but that NASA’s annual budget stands around a half percent of the U.S. government’s budgets. Every year.
That’s a tiny investment.
So, just think of the possibilities if the market were loosened even more and not necessarily with NASA sponsoring more of these types of ventures (although it is still doing that with a few). We don’t have to look far to see innovation in relatively unstructured and uncoordinated markets in the United States.
Would it hurt to see if the U.S. space industry would respond the same way other industries have in the U.S. with freer markets? It’s not something I believe China can conceive of. That nation has a plan. It likes plans. It can normally finish its planned projects. It does not like deviating from plans.
So why should the U.S. attempt to play China’s game in the space industry? Why not, instead, add a little crazy to the game? At the very least, it will be interesting to watch.
And it may cost less.
More evidence of interest in the space business, this time from Iran. Sure, some folks think Iran is launching rockets to covertly test missile and re-entry vehicle technology. But, maybe, just maybe, the Iranians are witnessing what space brings to people on Earth in other nations, and maybe they want a piece of it.
This is the problem with technology generally–it’s dual use, meaning it can be used for the benefit of humankind, or to make it worse for humankind. Note the article talks about the need for meteorological data for mundane activities like farming. Normally that refers to images from space. Images from space are dual use, and some folks in our administration might think Iran will use its satellites to spy on U.S. military activities.
I would argue it would be more cost-effective for the Iranians to put up a front company, buy the data from Planet, and use that data for spying. Actually, the same proposition would work for the meteorological claims, so maybe this is an earnest effort by the nation to not just help local farmers, but maybe to gain expertise in launching small rockets and operating satellites.
Or not 🙂
Here’s the difference between China’s space program and NASA: China’s government, and more importantly, it’s people, seem to be giving the nation’s space program tremendous backing, financially and politically. Meanwhile, U.S. political bodies in the past few years wanted NASA to go to the Moon, later decided on Mars, then asteroid touring, and now, the Moon again (serving as an excellent example of Mark Twain’s quote about school boards applying to our D.C. representatives).
This may mean China will launch a Solar Farm sometime, maybe not by 2025, but sometime close to that date. If the nation does that, and this experiment works, then China may have an advantage of power abundance that is inexpensive. If you believe China’s products are inexpensive now, just wait and see how cheap things might be if it works.
This seems to be happening. A private company from Israel is sending a lander to the Moon. Not NASA. Not Roscosmos. A private company, with a smaller budget than NASA. Also, the company doesn’t seem to need a CISLunar Gateway to get to the Moon. It just used a **relatively** inexpensive Falcon 9 rocket to do the job.
There are other companies with plans to send landers and rovers to the Moon. Soon. It will be interesting to see what these companies gain by accomplishing this. They might see something that NASA and the Soviets overlooked.
Well, at least one NASA rocket is vertical, even if it’s not on the pad. Maybe with the Space Launch System NASA can skip the middleman and just send it straight to the museum? That just might be a decade from now, based on how long the program has run so far.