China in Space pp 497-510 | Cite as

China in perspective

  • Brian Harvey
Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


If we define a space power as a country or group of countries with its own rocket able to put its own satellite into orbit, then the world has twelve space powers: Russia, the United States, France, Britain, Europe, China, Japan, India, Israel, Iran and the two Korean states. Of these, Britain and France no longer have a national satellite launching program, so the current relevant number is really ten (Britain cancelled its launcher program before its first, successful mission, while France merged its launcher program with the European one). Table 9.1 sets the Chinese space program in a comparable international perspective, first for the period 1957–2011 and, for contemporaneity, the past seven years when China eventually rose to top the leaderboard.


  1. 1.
    Dong, Wanghao & Liu, Lan-juan: A CGE analysis for the impact of the Chinese aerospace program on the China national economy. Paper presented to the 62nd International Astronautical Congress, Cape Town, 2011; Euroconsult: China space industry, 2018. Paris, author, 2018.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Wallonie Espace, #70, Sept–Oct. 2013. For the story of Miao Jian, see Yang Jian: Meet the woman doing her bit for China’s aerospace industry. Shine, 4 September 2018Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For an exposition of these issues, see Johnson-Freese, Joan & Erikson, Andrew: The emerging China – EU space partnership: a geotechnical barrier. Space Policy, 2006, #22; Covault, Craig: China’s surging military space program. Aerospace America, March 2011; United States Congress: Report of the US China economic and security review commission. Washington DC, US Government Printing Office, 2011; Cordesman, Anthony: Chinese space strategy and developments. Centre for Strategic International Studies, 2016; US-China Economic and Security Review Commission: Annual report, 2017. Washington DC, US Congress, 2018. For a recent example, see Nurkin, Tate: China’s advanced weapon systems. US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, supplied by Jane’s by IHS Market, 12 May 2018, which described China’s space program as a ‘dual-use space program’ run by the PLA’ (p. 87).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    China’s space activities in 2016 – the fourth version of the white paper. Presentation at the COPUOS 60th session in Vienna, June 2017.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Pirard, Théo: Les ambitions de la Chine en science spatiale – publication de la feuille re route officielle jusqu’en 2050. Wallonie Espace Infos 54, janvier–février 2011.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Tollefson, Jeff: China declared largest source of research articles. Nature, 25 January 2018.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ball, Philip: China’s great leap forward in Science. The Observer, 18 February 2018.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    For example, see the discussion in China – is it all propaganda? Spaceflight, vol 54, #8, August 2012.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Handberg, Roger & Li, Zhen: Chinese space policy – a study in domestic and international politics. Routledge, Abingdon, 2007; Johnson-Freese, Joan: The Chinese space program – a mystery within a maze. Florida, Krieger, 1998; Jones, Morris: The new Moon race. Rosenberg, 2009; Kulacki, Gregory & Lewis, Jeffrey: A place for one’s mat – China’s space program, 1956–2003. Cambridge MA, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2009; Sourbès-Verger, Isabelle: La Chine et l’espace. Monograph, undated; (& Borel, D) : Un empire très céleste – la Chine à la conquête de l’espace. Paris, Dunod, 2008. Théo Pirard and Christian Lardier contributed to the French weekly Air & Cosmos, while Jim Oberg is a well-known American commentator on space programs ( For details of Phil Clark’s commentaries, see bibliography. Andrew Thomas is an expert on the iconography and cultural impact of the program.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Harvey
    • 1
  1. 1.TempleogueIreland

Personalised recommendations