China Sees Commercial Sector As Next Frontier In US Space Race

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China sees commercial sector as next frontier in US space race

Shanghai, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 6th Jun, 2024) A world-first launch from the far side of the Moon this week showcased China's progress in space, and Beijing now wants its commercial sector to catch up to rivals such as Elon Musk's SpaceX.

Chinese companies lag far behind American frontrunners led by SpaceX, which plans to launch Starship, a massive prototype rocket that may one day send humans to Mars, on Thursday.

The gap is narrowing, however, as Beijing realises the value a solid commercial sector can add to its existing capabilities, experts told AFP.

It could even become similar to the development of electric vehicles where EV pioneer Tesla, also founded by Musk, was an early mover in China but now faces fierce competition from a host of homegrown rivals, said analyst Chen Lan.

"In five years, SpaceX may feel pressure," Chen told AFP.

"The situation in today's EV market will probably happen again when a lion (Tesla or SpaceX) faces a pack of wolves (Chinese companies)."

Tesla was recently overtaken by China's BYD as the world's top seller.

Beijing only opened up parts of the space sector to private capital in late 2014 but hundreds of companies have since sprung up.

A CERES-1 commercial rocket, for example, sent three satellites into orbit on Thursday, one of dozens of launches planned this year.

"China's commercial space sector is impressively large and deep," said Blaine Curcio, founder of Orbital Gateway Consulting.

While SpaceX is "vastly ahead" of its Chinese equivalent, "if we compare the fifth, or the 10th most-developed launch companies in the US and China, China is probably ahead", he said.