A Chinese economic zone in space

Science & Health

China has grand ambitions in outer space, including becoming the second country after the U.S. to land a Mars rover in 2020, operating a full space station by 2022, and building a research station on the Moon by approximately 2030. Officials added one more ambitious goal last week: To set up a $10 trillion Cislunar Economic Zone (地月空间经济区 dì yuè kōngjiān jīngjì qū), or Moon-based economic sector, by 2050.

Photo credit: SupChina illustration

China has grand ambitions in outer space. As we outlined in our guide to the Chinese space program on SupChina last week, Beijing’s goals include:

  • Becoming the second country after the U.S. to land a Mars rover in 2020.
  • Operating a full space station by 2022.
  • Building a “lunar palace,” or research station, on the Moon by approximately 2030.

Officials added one more ambitious goal last week: To set up a $10 trillion Cislunar Economic Zone (地月空间经济区 dì yuè kōngjiān jīngjì qū), or Moon-based economic sector, by 2050. Bāo Wèimín 包为民, a senior official at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, said the basic technologies would be mastered by 2030, with 2040 as the target date to build a system of regular space flights and infrastructure.

All the aforementioned goals are state-directed, which leads to the question: What about China’s private space industry? China does have a burgeoning private space industry that has made significant achievements in recent years, including successfully launching a rocket into space and delivering satellites into orbit for the first time in July this year.

However, before 2014, private investment into the space industry was illegal in China, so Chinese private startups like iSpace, OneSpace, and LandSpace have a long way to go to catch up with American counterparts like SpaceX.