The year is 2045 and China has launched a successful colonization mission to Mars after what seems like decades of simply catching up with the USA in terms of space exploration, rocket science, lunar exploration, space science, general propulsion and what looks to be a very promising terraforming methodology and several terraforming technologies that provide so much promise it is a threat to not only the USA but the world as a whole planet. For years China has been launching space shuttles to the moon and establishing several bases on the moon which due to the fact "lunar outpost" provide little benefit to capitalist societies with respect to profit for private owners and/or corporations. What seems like a sudden and unexpected intelligence leak the USA and western powers discover China has developed significantly more advanced and capable lunar stations to what almost seems like colonies. China launches a mission to Mars with the intent on colonizing it, terraforming it and establishing Chinese control over the entire planet of Mars. At first this is seen as nothing but "fake news" but the western powers ignorant in intelligence concerning the Chinese capabilities and with no incentive of their own only respond in what will be considered historically as a response akin to a nation, culture and society that was completely and utterly eclipsed in technology by another superior technological civilization. Chinese terraforming takes hold and US intelligence reveals they have make several significant technological break troughs in terraforming and space science. New photos from the CIA also reveal major lunar stations, launch pads, research labs and colonies on the dark side of the moon that went undetected. Chinese media and culture also become very nationalist and China as a nation begins to see its self as a universal power and a cultural revolution of space exploration takes place. The USA knows Chinese terraforming is limited and several intelligence sources reveal that the hype isn't that concrete. The western powers lead by the USA fall into panic akin to the launching of sputnik and a nation and society which seemed like it lost purpose and its ways suddenly was rallied into an all out new space race. The USA KNOWS if it is to beat China in the new space race it must develop terraforming technologies that are currently not possible with its current science but in a manner that is both rapid and out right savage.

What are some experimental, theoretical and/or terraforming technologies that could be developed that if implemented would drastically change the composition of a planet so as to be hospitable to humans and carbon based life? This includes the creation of water, oxygen and extreme technologies that effect a planets basic temperature. The technologies must be implemented in a near weaponized form if they are to compete with China. The technologies will need to be extreme, brazen and new to such a degree as to deter China from further colonization while also being superior to Chinese technology. Something from a war of the worlds invasion like "environmental assault" aimed at the complete legitimate terraformation of Mars so as to not cause hostile action from the Chinese. Western colonizers begin to appear on, albeit though in its hostile environment, Mars. US investors begin to invest in bonds for space companies and the US begins to divert money in amounts never seen before from the military to Space Force and the new "United Earth" space program.

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    $\begingroup$ So, it's a race between the USA and China to terraform Mars? If they are both competing to terraform it the fastest, while also terraforming the same rock, what's the contest really about? Bragging rights? "I terraformed x percentage of the Mars biosphere." I just don't see how the USA would look at a Chinese terraforming project and see a contest to terraform it faster and at all costs. $\endgroup$
    – BMF
    Jul 3, 2020 at 4:38
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    $\begingroup$ But at any rate, there are many many many proposals for changing the environment of Mars. If Chinese scientists determined a viable way to change the Martian environment over some feasible timescale to support life, and have begun it's implementation--the pooling and expenditure of unimaginable resources involved--it is likely the best option there exists for the job. And even if not, I doubt that two very different angles of approaching the problem would mix together well. $\endgroup$
    – BMF
    Jul 3, 2020 at 4:45

3 Answers 3


There are a number of false premises here - there is exactly zero chance that China could set up colonies on the far side of the moon without other countries' space surveillance noticing it. NASA already tracks everything in orbit bigger than a marble, because that information is crucially important to continued launches. They would not miss the kind of rocket lift required to put multiple bases on the moon.

Similarly, there would be no "surprises" in a Chinese expedition to Mars. If China was going there to terraform, it would be painfully obvious, and even if the US were so blinded by misadministration to dub it "fake news", the ESA, JAXA, ISRO, Roscosmos and others would take notice.

And one of the reasons they'd notice is this: there's insufficient material on Mars to terraform it.

If the Chinese had a hope of terraforming Mars, they'd have to be collecting materials from elsewhere in the solar system, which would require a ton of very, very visible movement in space.

All of this is leading to the thing that could give the USA the edge back:

Von-Neumann Factories

This would require simultaneous advances in astronomy, metallurgy, artificial intelligence, robotics, space propulsion, and a host of other disciplines, so it fits the superscience requirements you're after.

The goal? Create a spaceship that can travel out to the asteroid belt or the gas giants (or father!), find the necessary resources, and make another of itself. Preferably lots of itself. The original factory and its children would need to be adaptive, capable of self-repair, and massively redundant, but once one space factory could build another from materials it finds in space, you're most of the way there.

With exponential growth, soon enough you'd have thousands of space factories, at which point they move to their second stage - gathering resources from around the solar system to terraform Mars. Brutally strip-mining Saturn's rings to fling man-made comets on collision courses with Mars to deliver billions of tonnes of water and enormous energy all in one shot. Finding carbonaceous asteroids to process into dry ice that can similarly be thrown to thicken Mars' atmosphere. It would be a construction project unlike anything in human history, all made possible by the original, staggeringly-difficult task of creating the first space factory and sending it on its way.

The final stage, of course, once Mars was warm and wet, would be the descent to the surface of hundreds of the factories to build everything the human colonists would need. After as few as four centuries, the Red Planet could be made green.

Edit: I should point out that the only way this gives the US its edge back is if China is doing the terraforming the "hard way", with home-built spacecraft going out and fetching the materials piecemeal.

  • $\begingroup$ Let us assume that China according to USA standards are doing it the "hard way" but are doing it in such a manner in which makes such ways viable. Let us also assume China has made significant advances in technology most notable of which is a cost efficient nuclear fission rocket engine which was tested, launched in mass from Chinese lunar stations, perfected and made safe to alunch from earth. Lets also assume China has a edge on the USA in resources in space. If Self-replicating machines and the USA's lead in AI is to beat the Chinese, then how? Mass mining, mass mass martian - n, mass "n" $\endgroup$ Jul 3, 2020 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ Self-replicating machine The idea of clanking replicator and the USA's advances in AI is to it gaining an edge over China. Truly indeed the NASDAQ Is still in China's favor and the USA is years ahead of China in terms of AI, computer science and kin fields. China traditionally is still a resource "raw material" type of industrial society. Given China's missions to the moon, their black swan like advances in nuclear fission rocket engines and the USA's ability to adapt, develop and create new nuclear fission rockets, lunar stations and Self-replicating machines in mass - what could happen? $\endgroup$ Jul 3, 2020 at 21:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Cameron Carter China is indisputably leading in the area of quantum computing and quantum physics. They have also leapfroged over Western chip technology, completely bypassing the current generation and are now developing the next generation of chip technology. You are living in some fantasy world if you think China is behind America in AI. $\endgroup$ Jul 4, 2020 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ "Also, while other gases such as the introduction of chloroflorocarbons or other fluorine-based compounds have been proposed to raise the atmospheric temperature, these gases are short-lived and would require large-scale manufacturing processes, so they were not considered in the current study." With the development of colonies on Mars, a martian economy and further research into Martian geology developing such infrastructures in-conjunction with long term initiatives and research could make terraforming Mars more plausible. So I think you are WRONG. $\endgroup$ Jul 4, 2020 at 0:45
  • $\begingroup$ Well I guess that is cool, once China can develop, market and implement those technologies then lets start talking. Also are you saying China has made a CPU that is faster and more cheaply made then the current top tier Intel CPU's? That is cool, show me. If they make break through in quantum physics and quantum computing then by all means that would be Manhattan project level world changing science - if they implement it right... SO, WHAT IS YOUR POINT? $\endgroup$ Jul 4, 2020 at 0:56

If China is racing to colonize Mars, the US should then race to do something grander and better right?

The Chinese, if they pour their entire workforce into the Mars project, will have little left over for other topics. Either they will be taken by that project for a long, long time or they completely exhaust themselves in a single project with little left over for other things.

Also they will be sitting ducks on the Mars and Earth surfaces, so they can't risk war with another space faring civilization.

Third, they will be stuck in little habitats in Mars for thousands of years or they try to accelerate by getting more material from elsewhere, the Asteroid Belt for example. This makes a supply line which is magnificent in size, surpassed only by it's vulnerability.

"Everything is War", the Chinese like to state, often and openly.

When the West, lead by the EU, takes the Ball, it would be good to place themselves in the supply line of the Chinese.

Colonize and control the Belt and the jovian system. If you are able to survive in space without radiation damage, you can probably enhance the protection a bit and live directly next to Jupiter. It is also a preferred slingshot anchor, so you could probably disrupt the supply line directly if the Chinese get too aggressive.

Develop a technique to use fusion... naah for your story they certainly have it already, otherwise it is too expensive and difficult to zip around the solar system.

Develop the thousand kilometre turbo pump, harvest Jupiter's material directly. There you have your unlimited wealth.

Forget Terraforming, the Chinese are putting their men on it already. Surpass them in Space Mining (at the same time taking away their raw material). Surpass them in civilization spread. Take away the truly lare pieces of the solar system, block them off Saturn and the outer system. In order to not spread too thinly, export as many people into space as you can.

Develop technology for this, for recreation, nourishment, invent space economy, make it so that wealth cannot be inherited, only worked into, in order to release the brakes to put the turbo into it.

As soon as there is money to be had, even the Americans will come, all the while claiming it is a conspiracy and all not true and behind that metal door for sure there is a meadow and not empty space.

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    $\begingroup$ "The Chinese, if they pour their entire workforce into the Mars project, will have little left over for other topics." Like war. It was the Vietnam War that diverted American funds from the moon to 'other topics' that took much of the AMerican GDP. In fact, the Vietnam War exchanged places with NASA completely, in the percentage of America's GDP devoted to it. Of course, war expenditures have never been a priority in the Chinese budget, so that should not be a aproblem. China doesn't spend a penny on bombing other nations out of existence. $\endgroup$ Jul 3, 2020 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ Also, No, you are missing the fact that Martian geology and information the planet IN GENERAL is fairly ignorant and unknown. We just discovered water and oh yea there is also enough water to flood the planet up to a depth of 150 ft. If mineral ores are found on Mars then that would change the entire playing field and mining asteroids off Saturn would be not needed. $\endgroup$ Jul 4, 2020 at 0:49

China has not only already won the space race, they have completely obliterated America as a competitor. By 2045, America will be a non-starter. NASA will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of some Chinese conglomerate (since the Americans refuse to fund it adequately), and the Chinese flag will be flying over every space initiative, right along side of the UN flag. This, frankly, all due to the fact that America has completely given up on the concept of education and scientific achievement. Americans have found education to be too expensive, a complete drag on corporate profit, and so they have gutted their school system. There hasn't been an American initiative that has won a serious and significant (non-tokenism) Nobel prize in the sciences in decades. Tesla has pulled the wool over the American public with their completely fantasy smoke-and-mirrors Mars program, obfuscating the fact that America has nothing in the Mars race except hyperbole.

The difference between America and China is that China will include the rest of the world in their endeavors, making it a win-win strategy for everyone, a collective effort with every country equal in the endeavor. China will co-ordinate, but everyone will participate. It won't be 'America won' or 'China won', but the WORLD won. HUMANITY won. It is not China that is threatening the domination and exclusivity of space, it is America. All China is doing is threatening the domination of America over space, the American attitude that Americans have the exclusive right to own and control space. China is giving it back to the world. That is why every other country has abandoned America in any serious joint effort, and are now concentrating on their own technological, scientific, and space initiatives and programs. It started when CERN was built and supported by Europeans, in Europe. That opened the floodgates to the abandonmnet of America by other nations. There were greener pastures elsewhere in the world.

It won't be an 'intelligence leak' about Chinese lunar endeavors, they are doing it completely out in the open. It will be the American public finally waking up to the reality of what the Chinese are doing, and the Western media finally catching up to real news instead of the fake propaganda about Chinese abilities. The Chinese have made absolutely no secret about their intentions to colonize the moon and start commercial manufacturing. They are posting their plans, and the pictures, on their own media for the world to see. The CIA does not need to send probes up, they just need to believe what they read in Chinese media. It is the West that is just not bothering to believe it, not China that is failing to reveal it.

And therein is the answer to your question.

China will incorporate the best ideas from everywhere in the world. It will not be 'Chinee terraforming', but it will be the 'leading techniques from everywhere'. It will not be 'Chinese technology' (in the same vein that Americans want it to be 'American technology'), but 'world technology'. It will not be America competing against China, it will be America competing against the WORLD, and America has already lost the initiative, the intelect, and the good will.

For example, China is ALREADY 'terraforming' the moon, gaining expertise, well before America has even begun. Unfortunately, the plant died, but China got a lot of very valuable scientific knowledge from the venture, knowledge that it is sharing with the world, but America refuses to acknowledge. The fact that Americans are generally oblivious to this is not China's fault, but that America just refuses to pay attention.

It will be very hard for America to even come close to overcoming the lead China now has, unless they steal the technology from China. Whatever the method used for terraforming the moon, China will be at the forefront of developing it, with participation from the world's greatest scientists and intelectuals. The world now looks to China, and that is where the world expertise will now flow. Since China now has the research lab, the initiative, the investment money, and the co-ordinated single-minded focus and determoination of the entire government, and America seems hell bent on keeping these intellectuals out of America (and America just isn't producing its own talent), the resultant brain flow is inevitable.

Even worse, America just blatantly refuses to co-operate with China, so completely wrapped up in its belief that space BELONGS to Americans, and that it is a 'race' between nations, winner take all. If America co-operated, instead of trying to dominate, compete, and be number one, America might actually have a slim chance of having some presence on Mars. Otherwise, they will be buying seats from Chinese and world ventures, the way they had to buy seats to the space station from Russia.

Incidentally, the real reason why the Americans decided to continue the funding of the space station, is that China was prepared to offer to port the non-American parts of it to their own space station, should the Americans decide to abandon it.


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