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China Space United States

Is China's Space Race An Opportunity For the US? 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the silver-lining dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Lieutenant General Frank Klotz (ret.), the former vice commander of Air Force Space Command, writes that it's worth considering whether aspects of the U.S.-Russian experience with space cooperation can be pursued with China to serve long-term American interests. 'China has in many respects already reached the top tier of spacefaring nations — with profound implications for America's own interests in space,' writes Klotz. While initially starting well behind the two original space powers, China has slowly but steadily added accomplishments to its space portfolio, conducting nineteen space launches in 2011 — twelve less than Russia but one more than the United States. It's worth recalling that even in the darkest days of the Cold War, the United States and its archrival at the time — the Soviet Union — embarked upon cooperative efforts in space, most famously with the joint Apollo-Soyuz docking mission in 1975 and today the first stage of one of the rockets that currently lofts U.S. national-security satellites into orbit — United Launch Alliance's Atlas V booster — uses the powerful RD-180 rocket engine, which is made in Russia. Washington has called for enhanced dialogue with Beijing on strategic issues and for military-to-military exchanges to help reduce uncertainty and potential misunderstandings, however, in May of last year, the House inserted a provision into the NASA appropriations bill prohibiting the US from spending any funds 'to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company' and blocking the hosting of official Chinese visitors at facilities belonging to or used by NASA. 'This legislative action reportedly reflected deeply held concerns about protecting American intellectual property and sensitive technologies in the face of aggressive Chinese attempts to glean scientific and technical information from abroad,' writes Klotz. 'However, in the process, it foreclosed one possible avenue for gaining greater insight into China's intentions with respect to space.'"
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Is China's Space Race An Opportunity For the US?

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  • by vlm (69642) on Monday July 30, 2012 @08:57AM (#40816793)

    writes Klotz. "However, in the process, it foreclosed one possible avenue for gaining greater insight into China's intentions with respect to space."

    Luckily that avenue is risky and useless. Isn't a very early step in the decision making process "exclude the really bad ideas"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2012 @08:57AM (#40816803)
    Low cost labor, unabashedly stealing IP, billions of dirt cheap workers, totalitarian rule - There is no doubting who will win this battle.
  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Monday July 30, 2012 @09:06AM (#40816889)

    You can either cooperate. It means you have no unique intellectual property (IP) position, but through the widespread use of your IP you might get some benefits back like cheaper space flight. Also, with some luck, new orders for your own local economy, where that IP originated and where the most knowledge is available.

    Or you can protect the IP. No cooperation. Create an inflexible closed operation. Costs increase and without cooperation you'll have to invent everything yourself, or buy it under a license agreement. The best case scenario you succeed at being the first at everything. In a worse scenario, you pay for knowledge. In the worst cases, you either have no access, or you're violating someone else's IP.

    Look at the money being squandered on patent battles in courts in the IT and also manufacturing industries. Don't get space flight locked into a similar situation, because there's no way out.

    Cooperation through openness is the way forward. But it takes some balls to start doing that. (And please note that top managers and politicians, who think only short term, generally don't have those).

  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Monday July 30, 2012 @09:06AM (#40816891) Homepage

    As people say, China will get old before they get rich. Please don't interpret me as saying America doesn't have several problems they have to work through, but at the very least they don't have a demographic problem (compared to most parts of the developed world).

    China's one child policy is ultimately going to bite them. I know the general sentiment on Slashdot is Malthusian, but the number one resource of a nation is people. And if you have a demographic of population decline (eventually), a lot of single males, and too many old people relative to young people, that's not a long-term trend for success.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday July 30, 2012 @09:12AM (#40816951)

    China is getting a huge amount of capital which raises their standard of living, although, due to not having a free market it really only raises the standard of living for those at the top.

    How is that different than the USA? Wages have been stagnent for all but those at the very top for decades. Real income is actually slipping.

  • by tomhath (637240) on Monday July 30, 2012 @09:13AM (#40816957)
    On the one hand, it sounds reasonable to work with China now when they have a reason to work with us rather than wait until they've passed what NASA can do. On the other hand, given their history they would almost certainly learn whatever they can however they can, then cease cooperating once they've sucked away all the technology anyway. I don't see any benefit to the US in working with them.
  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday July 30, 2012 @09:19AM (#40817027)

    Actually class mobility in the USA is pretty much at an all time low.

    I know that conflicts with your American Dream mythology, but that is all it ever was a myth.

    Starting your own business in the US is easy, making it big pretty much requires political connections or connections with already established big business.

    Seems like the Chinese are run by government bureaucrats and we are run by Corporate bureaucrats.

  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Monday July 30, 2012 @09:24AM (#40817077)

    Isn't that our capitalist victory over the communist bastards? :)

    It seems that it never occurred to anyone that by winning the cold war, the communist countries would start playing the game by our own (rather ruthless) rules.
    When they were commies, we could block them out. Now we have to allow them to play the game. Not sure what was a bigger threat for our western economies.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2012 @10:35AM (#40817851)

    Citation needed.

    The way social mobility is kept low is because poor people do *not* have time, have no money, have no opportunity to develop skills and cannot afford to take the risk. These problems are far from as trivial as you make it sound. Work a poorly paid 18 hour day, and be forced to decide between medical care, food, and education, and realise that financial failure means starvation, and you will see how easy it is to be trapped in poverty.

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