Although China has relied on cooperation in the past to develop its space capabilities, it is increasingly willing to go it alone, proceeding slowly and steadily in a "long march" fashion. China might cooperate on space activities to accelerate a particular program or to gain prestige and recognition along the way, but ultimately its aim is to become a global competitor in space.
Space Power: A Crowded Field
With more and more countries in possession of the technologies necessary for space activity, the space domain has become more crowded and space power more diffuse. In the not-so-distant future, the U.S. will have to seek partnerships to maintain its comparative advantage in space, especially with regard to an increasingly ambitious Chinese space program. But despite India's obvious appeal as one such potential partner, New Delhi's approach to space activity presents some concerns.
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Recently, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, Robert O. Blake Jr., told the Indian press that the United States is hoping to become India's "close partner" in space exploration. While a laudable objective, it raises questions. What does the U.S. want from its partnership with India? And what kind of behavior in space is Washington willing to accept from India within that partnership?
Debates over space policy typically concern three themes: national security, civil space and commercial space. While a lot of creative thinking and policy analysis is involved in these existing debates, less attention has been paid to more basic functions, such as managing activity in the domain of space. The demands on basic management functions have been relatively modest, but that is changing.