Report: China’s Space Ambitions – Drivers, Goals, and Capabilities (AFPC 2023)

Source: American Foreign Policy Council

The Big Picture

The mission of China’s space program is to protect its national rights and interests and to build up its overall strength–the space program serves China’s overall national strategy.

China plans to establish itself as the world leader in space by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

The key drivers are assuming leadership in space, regime legitimacy and internal national development, economic development of space and entrepreneurship, and national security.

China’s civilian space capacity is led by its independent space launch system, its BeiDou navigation system, its ability to maintain a human presence in low Earth orbit, and its missions to the Moon and Mars. The PRC is developing reusable space launch capability.

China is developing space capabilities for countering adversaries, including kinetic kill, co-orbital, electronic warfare (satellite jammers), ground-based lasers, space robotic capacities with a robotic arm, reconnaissance, and surveillance. These capabilities are intended to create space access for China and to deny access to its adversaries in times of conflict.

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