chapter  11
21 Pages

Russia and China: strategic choices in space


By any measure – launches, human presence in orbit, or military systems – the United States and the Soviet Union dominated what William E. Burrows has called the “first” space age.1 Russia remains the second most capable space power, next to the United States, and still leads in a number of categories. While its space program suffered from considerable decline during the 1990s, it has made significant steps toward recovery, thanks to a combination of newly found economic resources (due to recently high world oil prices) and a political leadership (led by former President Vladimir Putin) interested in restoring the country’s space prominence, both to bolster national pride and to shore up Russia’s military capabilities.