Towards a new spatial geopolitical era –

April 23, 2021, Capsules Crew Dragon Endeavor, Accompanied by Frenchman Thomas Pesket on board, sailed for the International Space Station (ISS), reminding us that the world has entered a new era. This dynamic, influenced by the development of technology and the advent of individual actors, has had the effect of increasing the tension between the great powers.

Competition in space is not new. It was a decisive factor in the Cold War: for decades, the Soviet Union and the United States competed in their space and satellite programs, competing for their respective technological advances. The USSR won the first round by launching a satellite Sputnik d In October 1957. The American response was embodied in “Apollo 11” in July 1969, the first crew mission to land on the moon.

A privatization of the space industry thanks to billionaires?

Several private companies, including Microsoft, Virgin and Tesla (SpaceX), have entered the space race. Crew Dragon Endeavor. After the flight, Elon Musk’s company was chosen by NASA to make arrangements for landing on the moon during its next lunar mission. American companies don’t just invest: In April 2019, Israeli spaceil launched the first privately funded lunar operation in partnership with SpaceX.

If private and public actors rush to present their programs, partly because space is full of valuable resources: asteroids are rich in gold, rhodium, iron, nickel, platinum, tungsten or cobalt, and rare metals up to 100 in concentration. Many times more than the earth’s crust. The market could represent more than 100 100 billion for manufacturers by 2050. Asteroid Mining Corporation, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries have already started programs for collecting asteroid material.

However, since 1967, any allocation of outdoor space has been prohibited. The latter is considered a common heritage of mankind and is governed by the space treaty. This text prohibits any claim to sovereignty “by use or allocation” and leaves room for “peaceful exploration and discovery”. But in 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama (2009-2017) signed the Space Act, which allows U.S. companies to own or sell assets extracted from space.

The states themselves are fighting to hide their interest: if the moon becomes a strategic issue again, it may have something to do with the rare earths in it. In December 2020, China chose the landing site for the search Change 5 An area with the specialty of rare earth high density shelters. The samples returned by the capsule will enable Chinese scientists to determine the exact dose. Also, the lunar surface dust may contain large amounts of helium 3, a non-radioactive light gas considered to be the fuel for future nuclear fusion power plants.

Finally, space and high altitude technology are essential components of modern warfare. In July 2020, Russia was accused by the United States and the United Kingdom of testing a new weapon in space that could be used to target orbiting satellites. For its part, on December 20, 2019, Washington created the U.S. Space Force, a branch of the armed forces intended to conduct military missions in space.

Sino-American race

China is a major player. In September 2011, Beijing was launched Tiangong d, Its first space station. In January 2019, Chinese astronauts (“taikonauts”) landed on the first moon and made the first extraterrestrial biological experiment for the module. Change 4. In April 2021, the People’s Republic sent the first module of its future large space station. With 32 orbital launches in 2019, the most of any space power, Beijing has established itself as a leading player in terms of access to space. If China does not have a formal military space program for development, it has its revenge against the United States in the race for supremacy.

On March 9, 2021, the heads of the Chinese and Russian space agencies signed a cooperation agreement to establish the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), a multidisciplinary scientific research lunar base. The two countries have forged close ties in many strategic areas since 2014, with Moscow annexing Crimea, escalating tensions with Western powers, then with President Donald Trump from 2017 (2017-2021) and trade wars between Washington and Beijing. . For their part, the United States surrounds itself with its historical partners. The “Artemis” program, aimed at bringing a crew to the lunar surface by 2024, is being conducted in collaboration with Europeans, Canadians and Japanese. Faced with Beijing’s expansionist policies, Japan has tightened its budget: 4. 4.14 billion has been allocated to the space program for fiscal year 2021, an increase of 23% over 2020. At the 13th European Space Conference in January 2021, Europe confirmed that it would pursue an autonomous and ambitious strategy with a .2 13.2 billion envelope, but it lags far behind NASA’s .3 23.3 billion.

European Space Agency (ESA) in 2020 / Satellite Positioning System in 2021

1967 Space Agreement, Situation of June 2021 / Space investment of some billionaires in 2017

Towards a new spatial geopolitical era

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