In the face of an increasingly contested low Earth orbit and an escalating dependence on satellite technology, the State Department is escalating its diplomatic efforts in space.
Tuesday saw the release of a 25-page document, the “Strategic Framework for Space Diplomacy,” aimed at cementing American leadership in the rapidly changing landscape of space, amidst China’s ascendance as a formidable space power and the growing proliferation of national space programs.
On Monday, China boldly announced plans to send astronauts to the moon by 2030 and followed up today by sending a trio of astronauts to its own Tiangong space station.
The State Department’s new strategy intends to “establish international partnerships for civil and national security space, uphold a rules-based international order for outer space, and secure the United States and its allies from space-enabled threats.”
When asked about the plan, the undersecretary for economic growth, energy, and the environment, Jose Fernandez, emphasized the importance of international cooperation in the face of expanding space programs. “The success of this endeavor really hinges on our ability to cooperate with others,” he stated.
Concerns over China’s ambitious space program have been mounting within the federal government.
Recent years have seen China land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, send a rover to Mars, and construct a space station in low Earth orbit. These developments coincide with the aging of the International Space Station, slated for replacement by 2030.
China’s moon mission has stirred alarm within NASA’s administration.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has warned of a space race between the United States and China, stating, “If we let China get there first, they could claim it as their territory. This is why we need to get there on an international mission and establish the rules of the road.”