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US playing catch-up with China in space race: USAF general

The United States has fallen behind China in “operationalizing space,” says a high-ranking US Air Force general, calling for a more aggressive and less bureaucratic approach to catch up.

Lieutenant General Steve Kwast, the commander and president of Air University at the Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, told CNBC that China’s space program could cause a national security problem for America.

“In my best military judgment, China is on a 10-year journey to operationalize space. We’re on a 50-year journey,” the general said, according to Breitbart report on Monday. “We could be on a five-year journey because it’s all about how aggressively we are going about this journey.”

Kwast said Washington needed to “bring together the right talent to accelerate the journey.”

One way to do so, he said, was by cutting down on government regulations and bureaucratic measures that slowed down space programs, specially for private companies like Space X.

“You have to detail everything in your suitcase – each item’s material, manufacturer, weight and more – the government takes a year to go through it and then tells you what you can and can’t take,” Kwast said. “If you have to update your request, then you have to start all over.”

In March, US President Donald Trump signed a bill securing funding required for NASA to send a “crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s.”

This is while, China has planned to land a vehicle on Mars by 2020.