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U.S. Needs ‘North Star’ Vision to Stay Ahead of China in Space: Report

A rocket carrying Beidou Navigation Satellite System space vehicle blasts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province on June 23, 2020. (Xue Chen/Xinhua via AP)
A rocket carrying Beidou Navigation Satellite System space vehicle blasts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province on June 23, 2020. (Xue Chen/Xinhua via AP)

Industry leaders again called for the U.S. to develop a “North Star” grand strategy to guide commercial, civil and military space activities, saying in a report that without a greater sense of urgency, America could lose its strategic and technological edge over China by 2032.

The recommendation is part of the 2022 State of the Space Industrial Base report, crafted by officials from the Defense Innovation Unit, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Space Force. The document is the outgrowth of a workshop held this spring, during which more than 250 industry experts discussed the successes and challenges the space industry has faced in the last year.

Panel participants agreed that while the U.S. has made progress building its space industrial base, it’s failing to move forward fast enough to maintain a competitive advantage over China for the long-term. The body’s top recommendation for the fourth consecutive year is for the U.S. government to develop an overarching space strategy that brings together the priorities of the civil, commercial and national security space sectors, establishes shared goals and provides an alternative to China’s blueprint.

“It’s really the idea that the United States should develop a grand strategy for space and America’s future in it – not just for three years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now, but for the 21st Century,” Steve Butow, director of the space portfolio at DIU, said during an Aug. 24 event hosted by the Atlantic Council to discuss the report’s findings. “By painting our long-range vision, we can roadmap how we achieve that space future which is most desirable.”

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