OPINION: China And Our Growing Need For Aerospace Superiority


Phil Kiver Veteran, U.S. Army
China’s aerospace program poses the greatest potential threat to America’s military sovereignty. 

Since 2003, when the country launched its first astronauts into orbit, China has quietly expanded its space program. With the culmination of more than a decade of progress, China is the first nation to land a rover on the dark side of the moon. Though it may be comforting to hope this historic achievement heralds a period of cooperation between our countries, America should prepare for a new space race. 

The threat that China constitutes should not be understated. China has made their intention to become an “aerospace superpower” crystal clear. They plan to use their growing aerospace might to directly challenge the United States, according to a 2018 threat assessment. China’s expansion of its space program is “primarily designed to deter U.S. strikes against China’s space assets, deny space superiority to the United States, and attack U.S. satellites.” They are taking the necessary steps to make good on our assessment.

Last year, China launchedmore rockets into space than any other country. Our ability to respond in kind is more critically important than ever before. The United States must maintain its aerospace superiority; it is fundamental to preserving our national security.

The United States spends more money on its space programs and national defense than any other country, but it often does so aimlessly. America should prioritize its aerospace program and focus its efforts on sustaining its lead over China. That means manufacturing, launching, and maintaining a strong arsenal of satellites and rockets.   

But here’s the problem: not all rockets are created equal, and neither are the companies the U.S. contracts to build them. To remain competitive, the United States must rigorously scrutinize the resources that it utilizes. Are the contractors that our government employs on the taxpayers’ dime worth the cost? In the case of SpaceX, one of NASA’s preeminent aerospace contractors, the answer is, unfortunately, no at least at this time and under these conditions. 

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has had significant trouble delivering on its promise to create reusable rockets for the Federal Government. SpaceX’s rockets have struggled to function, explodingon two separate occasions and also experiencing a critical engine failure. To compare, United Launch Alliance, another aerospace contractor, has not losta single payload in 124 missions.

But the problems for SpaceX don’t stop there. A report from the Department of Defense found that SpaceX’s products were lacking in quality as well, with 50 percent more “major nonconformities” than its competitor. Despite these issues, NASA saidthat SpaceX would be hiking its prices on government missions by an average of 50 percent. 

The truth is: In an industry where competition is growingby the day, SpaceX is too unreliable to be trusted with America’s aerospace program. In this budgetconscious partisan atmosphere, we cannot afford to waste tax dollars. The U.S. must ensure that it utilizes superior technology and retains the very best contractors it has at its disposal. With the potential threat of a space race looming, America must preserve its aerospace superiority to keep the country safe.

Dr. Phil Kiver is an U.S. Army veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan. He earned his Ph.D. in Strategic Studies at Henley-Putnam University. 

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.