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International Space Race Heats Up

The April of Gibbous by Andrew McCarthy

The space race continues as more countries come together to make alliances and build the new space economy. The United States, Russia, and China are at the forefront, as always.

Roscosmos, the Russian national space agency, is forging ahead with plans to build a new space station. Over the last six months, there have been negotiations with China, South Africa, and most recently France. Just this week, Roscosmos signed a contract with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) to deploy a Russian space debris detection and measurement complex. This will go a long way to keep objects in space safer from collisions. Roscosmos is also negotiating Russian-French cooperation using the Soyuz complex and France potentially participating in the Russian-Chinese initiative to set up the International Lunar Research Station.

NASA’s sights are set on the Moon. The US Artemis program's goal is to send the first woman and the first person of color to the Moon by 2024. Brazil and New Zealand are the two latest countries to sign the Artemis Accords and join the mission. The organization wants to take it even further. Bill Nelson, NASA’s new administrator, said that they want to have sustained crewed lunar landings every year for “a dozen years”. NASA is also seeking new designs, conduct technology, and engineering risk-reduction tasks for the human landing system (HLS), which will ferry Artemis astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface and back. It will award milestone-based contracts of up to $45 million.

China is looking at innovative technology to help them make an impact in the international space industry. The country plans to build a massive space-based solar power station in geostationary orbit. Meanwhile, China's National Space Science Center (NSSC) has started building a monitoring station to study space weather. Chinese astronauts have also just completed the second spacewalk in the history of the country’s space program.

The space industry is continuing to forge ahead with the public and private sector merging to help humanity explore beyond Earth.

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