Space, the Final Frontier
China's Aerospace Industry Takes Off - Feb 13, 2023
A week ago it seemed that the story of a balloon flying over US airspace was running out of gas. Additional objects were then targeted by NORAD, perhaps because the tolerance levels for surveillance were narrowed due to the public outcry. China is also claiming to have spotted UFO’s above its skies, near Qingdao, and has threatened to shoot them down. This morning the White House denied all reports of alien activities.
If you think this is beginning to sound like a Japanese sci fi movie from the 1960’s you are not alone. Where is Starman when we need him? Would an actual extraterrestrial threat unite the world? One online poll asked “If the UFO’s are determined to have been sent by alien forces, would the US and China finally work together to protect the planet?” The answer is no. 68% thought the two countries would not cooperate even under those dire circumstances, an indication of how much the relationship has deteriorated.
As a result of these incidents, there will be new scrutiny on what is going on at high altitudes, including I predict a new Law of the Sky to complement the current Law of the Sea. The last Outer Space Treaty was signed back in 1967, two years before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.
Mired in our earthly battles, until this dramatic incident we have ignored the gray rhino of space competition. In 1957 the launch of Sputnik was at the heart of a historic geopolitical moment between two superpowers. China’s errant balloons are a tiny portion of its $250B aerospace industry, which has experienced tremendous growth over the past two decades. This sector is a source of pride and a national priority for the new policy goal of Chinese-style modernization. There will be no return to 1966 when the US, the USSR and Europe were the only players in space.