China Is Showing No Signs of Slowing Down Space Exploration


Blaine Curcio is the Founder of Orbital Gateway Consulting and a foremost expert on the Chinese space sector. His podcast, Dongfang Hour, provides essential information on the Chinese space program from Chinese sources. Space to Grow’s Chris Blackerby and Charity Weeden recently got the opportunity to chat with Blaine and talk about all things space exploration in China.

Is the Chinese space program shrouded in mystery, or is this a perception issue in the West? Weeden wanted to know the facts from the cloud of misinformation.

“One thing I hear a lot is this assumption that the Chinese government is omnipotent,” Curcio said. “If they say, for example, build us a 5,000 satellite LEO broadband constellation, there’s an impression that will just get done tomorrow, and there are no questions asked; at the end of the day, that’s an oversimplification in the sense that you do have in this system a lot of different competing forces, factions, and entities that have their own interests. And you have incentives that don’t make it that easy.”

For the past decade, China’s made a significant investment in space, technology, resources, and funding. And they show no signs of slowing down with ambitious plans over the next several years. They plan to complete the International Lunar Research Station in the next fifteen years. “If we look at plans like that, that seems extremely ambitious,” Curcio said. “And I think the space station has some interesting potential to expand in the medium to long-term.”

One difference between the Chinese space program and The United States is the coordination of efforts. The US tends to lead national efforts run by NASA, and China takes a more siloed approach with various companies working with local and provincial governments. Without a top-down coordinated attempt, Curcio said some of China’s plans for space could experience difficulties.

More in This Series

The Infrastructure Available to the Commercial Space Industry will Impact Affordability of Launches

The Impact of the Russian ASAT Tests

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