February 12, 2014
The U.S. is in an under-the-radar space race with China - and it's losing: When shooting for the moon means shooting down satellites...
The Jade Rabbit is the cute face of China's space program; from its initial "soft" landing on the moon to engineering complications that mean it may never "reawaken" from its "first lunar slumber," the unmanned rover has received the kind of adoring coverage typically reserved for panda cams. But all of China's ambitions in space are not so friendly: Over the past decade, the country has been quietly militarizing the cosmos and it's gunning for the United States.
Since the end of the Cold War, America has been space's sole superpower, and it's not ceding that status without a fight. But in this hushed race for control of the orbit around Earth, China doesn't need to control everything to win; it just needs to take away the U.S.' strategic advantage. And it's doing so by turning the U.S.' own strength against it.
"It's going to take a long time to get replacements up there," said Michael Krepon, a senior associate at the Stimson Center. "We're having trouble building satellites on time and on budget."