For seventy years, humanity has begun to explore Space. Twelve astronauts have trampled on the lunar soil, and a dozen traveled the billions of kilometers that separate us from Saturn or Pluto, photographing unknown worlds that appear to us as surreal images dreamlike.
Affirming that man conquered Space is equivalent to saying that he has understood the reason for his presence in the Universe. It simply isn’t true. The achievements of space exploration were instead the immense fragility discovery of our planet and our own life on it. But satellites and space stations have also allowed another type of conquest, from political and economic supremacy on Earth.
The conquest, that is, of terrestrial geopolitical domination with extra-terrestrial tools. Space exploration has followed trajectories designed by scientific ambitions but, above all, by political ones. For half a century, US / USSR bipolarism marked the “Race to the Moon.” And the millennial dream of trampling its ground was the ideal curtain to mask the military confrontation that pushed the man away from his earthly home. Then, with the United States’ dominance on Earth, the geopolitical order seemed to have found its balance, also in the Cosmos.
Today, new players like China join Russia and the United States in the “Space Race” to impose their geopolitical role on Earth, while European countries seem to lose their global political weight.
The space exploration of the new century is about to take on forms that today look like science fiction. But which will become real. Cyberspace cyber threats, invisible to our eyes, will join those, visible, of the Cosmos where space stations with laser weapons and hypersonic missiles will overwhelm the naive, albeit genuine, dreams of landing on Mars and colonizing other worlds.
The last few years are characterized by a renewal of the strategic competition between the superpowers for the conquest of space, which has become a terrain of competition and the subject of growing interest for the main global players. China and the US, as in other dimensional domains, are the leaders of the competition to strengthen their position in a competitive environment that has high economic and strategic implications. There is therefore a real “geopolitics” of space exploration.
The new space race has therefore come to life and will have a strong impact, in the future, on the balance of power on the planet. As in the case of the race for the technological revolution, competition in a context that appears immaterial will have concrete repercussions in the balance of power. Economy and geopolitics will be strongly affected: and there is no doubt that in the coming years, it will be necessary to pay increasing attention to what is happening hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers above our heads.