China once said it couldn’t put a potato in space. Now it’s eyeing Mars
GUANGZHOU, China — In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, which sparked a space race with the U.S.
China, however, was nowhere to be seen.
While the U.S. and the Soviet Union were battling for superiority in this new domain, Mao Zedong, one of the founders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), reportedly said: “China cannot even put a potato in space.”
Fast forward more than six decades and President Xi Jinping, China’s current leader, is seen congratulating three astronauts who were sent to the country’s own space station earlier this month. Since Mao’s comments, China has launched satellites, sent humans to space and is now planning to build a base on Mars, achievements and ambitions Beijing has highlighted as the centennial of the CCP’s founding approaches.
"President Xi Jinping has declared that China’s ‘Space Dream’ is to overtake all nations and become the leading space power by 2045." Christopher Newman PROFESSOR OF SPACE LAW AND POLICY, NORTHUMBRIA UNIVERSITY
Space is now another battleground between the U.S. and China amid a broader technological rivalry for supremacy, one that could have scientific and military implications on Earth.
“President Xi Jinping has declared that China’s ‘Space Dream’ is to overtake all nations and become the leading space power by 2045,” said Christopher Newman, professor of space law and policy at the U.K.’s Northumbria University. “This all feeds into China’s ambition to be the world’s single science and technology superpower.”
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