Can the US and China Cooperate in Space?


Will collaboration or competition define international space science and exploration in the 21st century? The answer could come down to how two spaceflight superpowers, the U.S. and China, choose to engage with each other in the next few years.

The U.S. remains the global leader in space by most metrics, but China is methodically advancing its own ambitious space agenda at a quickening pace, blueprinting and carrying out a succession of robotic interplanetary forays to destinations such as the asteroid belt and Jupiter, as well as a sample-return mission to Mars. Layered into the mix is China’s five-year plan for moon exploration, which, in a recently announced partnership with Russia, would lead to both countries jointly building an International Lunar Research Station that would be tended by human crews.