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Indians watch a rocket carrying communication satellite GSAT-29 lift off from Satish Dhawan Space Center Indians watch a rocket carrying communication satellite GSAT-29 lift off from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, Nov. 14, 2018 (AP Photo/R. Parthibhan).

Small States Can Play a Big Role in Space

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Over the past several months, as China began building its own space station in low-Earth orbit and collaborating with Russia on an asteroid mission and new lunar base, some in the United States have expressed concerns that a new space race is on. Cold War-style rhetoric has cropped up in media reports and government statements alike—and not for the first time. The establishment of the U.S. Space Force in 2019, for example, was largely justified as a response to the alleged weaponization of space by China and Russia, both of which in turn saw the new American military branch as a threat to peace

Yet the geopolitics of space today are far more complex than this “Cold War 2.0” narrative would make them seem. Today, more than 70 nations have space programs, including 14 with the capacity to launch from their own territories. Moreover, in what has been known as “NewSpace” for some time now, commercial players are leading the pack, building and innovating faster than government programs.  ...

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