With access to more than 400 satellites plus at least two tiny, maneuverable robotic shuttles, the U.S. military is the clear leader in military spacecraft. But with 70 orbiters of its own, China is catching up fast. Last year, Beijing matched Washington in space launches for the first time, boosting no fewer than 15 satellites into orbit. It was the first time any nation kept a celestial pace with the U.S. since the height of the Cold War.
The new space race is on. But in the view of one influential analyst, the race isn’t worth the prize. Space “is expensive to enter, hard to sustain assets in, contains no defensive ground, and — barring energy-intensive maneuvering – forces assets into predictable orbits,” Andrew Erickson, a Naval War College professor and editor of the new book Chinese Aerospace Power, told me as part of a longer interview over at AOL Defense.