On January 2, 2019, China successfully landed the Chang’e 4 space probe on the dark side of the moon – making China the first country in history to do so. This accomplishment represents just one of China’s most recent steps toward fulfilling its goal of becoming “a space power in all respects.”
In pursuit of this goal, China has become the world’s second largestspender on space capabilities. Driven by the dual motives of seeking status and security, China’s comprehensive modernization of its space program poses a challenge to U.S. security interests and global standing. However, by recognizing Chinese status aspirations, the United States maintains an important tool by which to temper competitive tensions, and mitigate the threat of a full blown space race.