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China’s ‘God of Fire’ mission foreshadows a scramble for control of space — and Australia is being left behind.

The successful landing of China’s Zhurong “God of Fire” exploration rover on Mars is a major leap forward for the country’s ambitious space program, foreshadowing greater competition for control of space and its vast resources.

Rapid, reliable access to space is now an economic and national security imperative. Tthe Bank of America expects the value of the global space industry, estimated at more than $US424 billion in 2019, to reach $US1.4 trillion by 2030. There are around 3800 operational satellites orbiting the planet. Many more are planned, raising concerns about their vulnerability to attack by “malign actors” and damage from the estimated 128 million pieces of space junk in orbit.

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