China Sends Its Youngest Crew Ever to Space Station

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    The Facts

    • China’s Shenzhou-17 mission took off Thursday morning from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China as the country continues to grow its ambitious space program that hopes to send people to the moon by 2030.

    • The six-month mission featured China’s youngest-ever crew and is heading to China’s Tiangong space station. Former Air Force pilot Tang Hongbo, 48, is leading the mission alongside Tang Shengjie, 33, and Jiang Xinlin, 35. Hongbo crewed the first mission to the space station in 2021, while his two colleagues have never been to space.


    The Spin

    Pro-China narrative

    While China is conducting successful and groundbreaking space missions at a rapid rate, the US continues to lag behind in this generation’s lunar race. China’s government and teams of astronauts are committed to reaching their goal of landing on the moon by 2030. However, the rival US is held back by bureaucratic red tape and overall dysfunction in its government. The US may have a head start in the space race, but China is ready to take the lead and never give it back.

    Anti-China narrative

    The idea of a space race conjures memories of a key time in American history that brought a sense of national pride and unity, which is why so many people are hyping China as a new rival in a 21st-century competition. However, this is far from being true. While China may be making some notable strides in its space exploration sector, it lags so far behind the US that it cannot be considered a serious rival. Perhaps China can make things interesting over the next few decades, but it's not close at the moment.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that China will conduct at least 16 space station visits before 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.



    Establishment split

    CRITICAL

    PRO

    More neutral establishment stance articles

    Sign up to our daily newsletter