The Straits Times says

Room for collaboration in space race

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China over the weekend sent up the second module of its space station Tiangong, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year, 11 years after the country was shut out of the International Space Station (ISS) by the United States. In 2011, the US Congress, through the Wolf Amendment, prohibited the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) from using government funds to engage in direct, bilateral cooperation with the Chinese government, out of fear of scientific espionage. This did not deter the Chinese from developing their own space programme. Instead, they have made huge strides in the years since, landing a probe on the far side of the moon in 2019, the first time humanity has done so; launching the core module of the Tiangong space station in April last year; and becoming only the second nation after the US to deploy a rover on Mars last year.

And it is not stopping here. Its 2021 White Paper on its space programme has several ambitious projects, including asteroid probes; putting its first astronauts on the moon by 2030 and building a lunar base jointly with Russia; launching a space telescope, Xuntian, in 2023; and launching a space-based gravitational-wave detector by the early 2030s that would make it the first of its kind as the European Space Administration is expected to launch a similar observatory only in the second half of the decade. While doing things like putting astronauts on the moon or having its own space station brings prestige to the country and improved space technology helps with terrestrial activity like telecommunications, navigation and weather forecasting, what worries the US is the use of such technology for military purposes. Reports in the US say China has been working on military uses of space, including anti-satellite missile testing and developing hypersonic weapons. There are calls in the US to stay ahead of China and ensure the US' leadership in space.

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