As the U.S. looks to assert its position of global dominance by checking China's growth and confronting it in the South China Sea, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is hoping for more cordial relations between the two countries, at least when it comes to matters of space.
The U.S. and China do not see eye-to-eye in a lot of earthly affairs. While these disagreements are mostly related to trade, geographical and maritime boundaries, national security, and even carbon emissions, one would expect that the two countries would stand together as part of the human race, when aiming for the sky and beyond.
Unfortunately, that is just not the case. The differences between the two countries extend to the low-earth orbit and further beyond. The International Space Station (ISS) that has welcomed more than 200 astronauts from 19 nationalities is out of bounds for China, governed by U.S. law. As the flying laboratory comes to the end of its scheduled lifespan in 2024, China is building one of its own and could see U.S. astronauts on the blacklist, bringing low-gravity experiments to an abrupt halt.
China has managed to send a rover to Mars, becoming only the second nation after the U.S. to do so but may also be accelerating its crewed mission to the Moon to compete directly with NASA's Artemis Program. While China is open to collaborating with Russia for a base on the Moon, working with the U.S. does not seem to be on its priority list either. Rather China seems poised to beat the U.S. in an arena that the U.S. has dominated for decades since the Cold War.
Does this attitude help when we broaden our horizons and plan multi-month journeys to far-away planets? Just like the U.S.-Russian cooperation yielded the ISS, wouldn't co-operation with China also lead to the development of technologies that would help the human race? These are the kind of questions that The Mars Society, an organization advocating for the exploration and creating settlements on Mars asked.
To which came Musk's reply.
Some amount of cooperation would be good— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 19, 2021
The only thing standing in the way is the Wolf Amendment. Maybe Elon Musk has a more elaborate plan to get rid of that as well.