In 2017, China spent about $8.4 billion on its civilian and military space budget while Russia cut its space program back to $3 billion. The US NASA and Military Space budget is about $48 billion. The US spends about $14 billion on the military space program. There is NASA’s $21.5 billion budget. There is also the National Security Agency space budget.
If China maintained about 6% per year economic growth to 2030 and scaled the space budget in proportion to the overall economy then China would be at about $15 to 20 billion for a 2030 space budget.
Elon Musk and SpaceX developments will prevent China from overtaking the USA in space technology. Russia will continue to shrink in importance as part of what is happening in space. China has at least four space startups pursuing reusable rocket technology. It is clear that China’s government will provide those startups with financial and other resources to attempt to replicate what SpaceX is doing.
China’s goal is to be a major global space power by around 2030, and China’s primary state-owned space contractor has stated China aims to be a global leader in space equipment and technology by 2045.
China’s overall goals are to become the United States’ peer in space militarily, diplomatically, commercially, and economically. If China continues to meet its declared space goals, it may be the only country to have an active space station after U.S. government funding for the International Space Station (ISS) ends in 2024, and it may begin to establish a research station on the moon by 2025.
China will probably launch, assemble in-orbit, and operate” the China Space Station (CSS) before 2025. The China Space Station is foolishly following the path of the International Space Station as a super-sized version of 1970 Russian Soyuz and US SkyLab space stations.
According to the China Manned Space Agency, the initial CSS will weigh approximately 66 tons, or about one-seventh the mass of the ISS, and it will have a number of payload racks available for use by foreign partners. The CSS, planned to initially comprise a core module plus two experimental modules, will accommodate three to six taikonauts for up to three- to six-month intervals and will have a service life of at least ten years.
Tianhe-1, the 20 metric ton core module of the CSS, is currently scheduled to launch in 2020 on an LM-5B.69 Two science modules are scheduled to launch by the end of 2022, completing the station, and the CSS will have the potential for further expansion. Yang Hong, chief designer of the CSS, said in October 2018 the CSS could accommodate up to three additional modules, eventually increasing its total mass to 160–180 metric tons.