Space exploration has become relevant again, “got a second wind”, writes Le Figaro journalist Nicolas Bavere. The United States expects to send a man to the moon before the end of the decade and then prepare for flights to Mars. China, for its part, is developing at a tremendous rate in space: in 2019, it sent a ship to the far side of the moon, and recently its spacecraft landed on Mars. And China has ambitions to send its astronauts to Earth’s natural satellite by 2030. “The renaissance of space is inseparable from the new Cold War, in which the United States and China oppose each other,” the author wrote. During the bipolar system, space, along with nuclear weapons, was at the epicenter of hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union. And it is space that will play a decisive role in the outcome of the confrontation between Washington and Beijing, the author of the article believes.
It determines the effectiveness of modern weapons. So, although international treaties prohibit the deployment of weapons of mass destruction in outer space, militarization is still taking place there. All major nations already have commands in the armed forces that deal with space.
Among other things, space is becoming the most important infrastructure for the digital economy and plays a crucial role in competition between countries and continents. “Space in the 21st century will become what the seas were – in the 19th century: whoever controls it controls the earth,” the author writes. The current phase of space exploration differs from the previous one in three respects.
First, space shuttles and the small size of satellites allow them to be concentrated and used for dual purposes.
Second, space has become a market and emerged from US monopoly. Although it is still under party control in China, private entrepreneurs have entered the United States.
Third, according to the author of the article, now the United States and China dominate in space, while Russia and Europe are receding into the background. And if Russia is trying to cooperate with China, Europe is content with second-rate programs. The European model of development is proving to be too complex and bureaucratic, outdated. It suffers from chronic underfunding and growing divisions between France and Germany. “Space is one of the key aspects of the strategic autonomy of France and Europe, both technologically, economically and militarily,” concluded the author of the article in Le Figaro.