x Introduction debate from one fixated almost exclusively on national security dimen- sions to one pursuing a peacetime strategy and considering the economics of space. Indeed, as the Blue Ribbon U.S. government State of the Space Industrial Base reports note, America lacks a North Star vision for space, at least so far. Others, however, do not lack such a vision. While America’s space efforts have been focused narrowly, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has laid out and begun to implement a sweeping national space strategy—one that could, over time, severely and adversely impact U.S. economic and mili- tary security. China’s effort is driven by a singular purpose, buttressed by a state-run economy and political decision-making processes that ensure its rapid implementation. From Moon landings to plans for asteroid min- ing and harnessing energy in space, Beijing is beginning to exploit space to achieve its great power ambitions. And more is yet to come. China’s government has laid out concrete milestones in this domain, envisioning its space efforts culminating in an Earth-Moon economic zone generating $10 trillion annually by the year 2050. Beijing, moreover, is making serious progress toward that goal. The United States needs to structure its approach to space to ensure that it can meet or surpass PRC timelines. The pace of U.S. efforts will be driven by politics, policy, and the seriousness with which we seek to address great power competition in this emerging domain. It is time to widen the U.S. lens vis-à-vis space, from human and robot exploration to a comprehensive strategy that serves American economic, societal, and military interests. There may be some aspects of the space race that are less important—for instance, human travel to Mars would be more of a sym- bolic accomplishment than a strategic one. But the race for Lunar resources and solar energy collection will have massive implications for our national economic power and global standing. Whichever country can sustainably achieve its objectives first will capture the high ground in what is shap- ing up to be a critical strategic arena. America needs to articulate a space vision committed to a path of space economic and industrial development and to guarantee the protection of such commerce. To compete success- fully against China, the United States will need to go on the strategic offen- sive before it is too late. STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK In this book, we begin by exploring the need to shift from a focus on space exploration to one of space commerce, citizen spaceflight, space mining, and space development. For long-duration operations in space, it will be imperative to devote resources to nuclear power and propulsion systems. Solar energy will be indispensable for further development in space, as well as to provide power to Earth.
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