Washington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & Security
Washington, DC 20001
China's galactic aspirations surpass US space ambitions

The media was rocked by allegations that Russia has been working on a nuclear weapon that can be launched into space. The technology in question, which House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner menacingly labeled a “serious national security threat,” left many in Washington wondering how the US government plans to take advantage of space’s strategic importance. In the space realm, Russia isn’t the most forceful player, though. That distinction goes to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which is advancing with the full support of the ruling class in Beijing and has a well-defined plan to rule space.

The rise of China’s space program

China’s space program includes a wide range of activities, such as mining asteroids, growing the number of PRC-operated satellites, and creating a GPS navigation system competitor to the US one. But its ultimate goal is evident: to strengthen the nation’s all-encompassing national power. “To explore the vast cosmos, develop the space industry, and build China into a space power is our eternal dream,” declared the People’s Republic of China. As a result, China has advanced its space program significantly in recent years. For example, since entering Earth’s orbit in April 2021, the PRC’s Tiangong space station has housed six different astronaut teams. Zhang Qiao, a researcher at the China Academy of Space Technology, declared last year that the station will grow to twice its current size in the future to accommodate the more than 100 scientific research projects that have been carried out or are being carried out in orbit. Furthermore, China accomplished a record sixty-seven targeted launches in 2023, successfully recovered lunar material in 2020 with its Chang’e-5 mission, and successfully landed its Zhurong rover on Mars in 2022.

Ambitious lunar exploration

Most recently, designs for a human facility on the Moon were revealed by experts from the northeast Chinese Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT). A design for a large-scale Lunar installation is presented in recently translated video footage from the Third Annual Space Science Conference in October 2023, which was co-hosted by the Zhejiang Province Science and Technology Association and the Chinese Society of Space Research. A fleet of autonomous vehicles, closed-cycle life support, research labs, a greenhouse, underground living quarters, a solar system, and more are all aspects of the facility. Under the direction of Chief HIT Engineer Mei Hongyuan, the project’s stated goal is to investigate the lunar surface’s chemical makeup.

Expansion of space infrastructure

First, there’s a good possibility that the plan will come to pass. China is well-known for its large-scale architectural projects, like the Great Wall, the Grand Canal, the Three Gorges Dam, and others. The country already has plans to send a manned expedition to the Moon in 2030 and build a permanent base there by 2036. Meanwhile, seriousness appears to be indicated by the architect of China’s new Lunar Base plan’s qualifications. With political connections to China’s top leadership, Mr. Mei is a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and a professional architect with expertise designing buildings for the Harbin Institute, the PRC State Council, and the 2022 Winter Olympics. His designs for a Lunar base therefore have a great deal of legitimacy.

Technological innovation and collaboration

An economic threat to US interests is a Chinese Moon base. One location for a variety of essential materials is the lunar surface. More precisely, there are several applications for helium-3, a non-radioactive isotope that is present in significant amounts on the Moon’s surface. The most prominent application is in the running of nuclear fusion reactors. Given that silicon and aluminum are also very abundant on the moon, Chinese engineers will probably employ the soil to create 3D printed buildings and solar panels. 

The Moon “may serve as a new and tremendous supplier of energy and resources for human beings,” according to Chinese Moon scientist Ouyang Ziyuan.This is essential for the long-term, sustainable growth of humankind on Earth.The first person to colonize the moon will reap the benefits. The time is ticking, as China has succinctly illustrated with their Lunar plans. America must begin considering how space serves the long-term national interest if it is to truly capitalize on the strategic prospects that lunar development presents.  


In conclusion, The United States will lose out on the material and symbolic advantages that China is trying to capture if it does not face this reality. That is exactly what the United States is in risk of right now. America’s goals are still distinctly low. For example, the NASA Artemis program, the cornerstone of the nation’s space goals, is not nearly as ambitious as China’s proposal and does not have the necessary strategic vision to propel the country into space travel.


Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive latest news, updates, promotions, and special offers delivered directly to your inbox.
No, thanks