This massive rocket would be unlike anything NASA built, however; Chinese officials, taking a page from the SpaceX playbook, said they would like it to be reusable. And, they added, they aim to one day launch the Long March 9 to take its taikonauts to Mars.
While SpaceX became a transformational space company, the US and China have been locked in an increasingly intense battle for influence and economic resources on Earth. That conflict, which has already emerged in low-Earth orbit, will extend to the Moon and eventually Mars in the coming decades. In the contest for geopolitical influence and economic wealth, space will come to represent the ultimate high ground.
China is definitely going.
For now, the US and NASA have the advantage of a more robust space program and a stronger commercial space industry. But for the last decade, the US commercial space industry has succeeded despite Congress, not because of it. Unless Congress and NASA more closely embrace commercial space and follow a bold plan of exploration, China’s constancy of purpose and mimicking of Western strengths will overcome this head start.