BEIJING — China’s space capabilities are ranked the fourth in the world, and the gap between the leading powers is narrowing, according to a report issued recently by a Chinese research organization.
China is at a crucial period developing from a major power to a great power in space, says an evaluation by the Beijing Institute of Space Science and Technology Information, affiliated to the China Academy of Space Technology.
Last year saw a record 92 launches around the world, with 262 spacecraft put into orbit. The institute for the first time evaluated the space capabilities of 20 countries and regions across six aspects: strategy, product systems, infrastructure, industrial scale, innovation and international influence.
It rated the United States, Europe, Russia, China, Japan and India as the leading powers in space.
The United States’ status as the only super power in space is unshakable, but the gap between the United States and its followers is narrowing, says the report.
Europe and Russia are ranked as the next two great powers. With its technological advantages and alliances with the United States, Europe has made a giant leap in its space capability. Russia has curbed its decline, showing signs of recovery thanks to its medium and long-term plans and reform of its space industry, the report says.
China, Japan and India are major powers in space. Pursuing an independent development path, China has made remarkable accomplishments in space technology, showing strong momentum and potential. Driven by technological innovation, active international cooperation and an alliance with the United States, Japan has made rapid developments.
India became the first Asian country to successfully send a probe to Mars in 2014, marking a breakthrough in its space capability, says the report.
The report also mentions emerging countries in space represented by Canada and the Republic of Korea, which closely follow China, Japan and India.
Space has become a “high frontier” as nations jostle for political, economic, military and science and technological advantages. Driven by the needs of national security and economic interests, more countries are vying to flex their muscles in space, says the report.