MOSCOW, October 24 (RIA Novosti) — China's principal competitor in space exploration is India, not Russia, researcher at the Russian Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Vasily Kashin told RIA Novosti on Friday.
"China and India are two new space powers. They have vast resources and consider their space programs from the national prestige perspective," the expert said.
He added that China and India are following Russian and US footsteps in space exploration.
"China's more developed space-rocket industry and immense resources have let it take the lead in the two countries' space race," Kashin argued.
Despite being behind China in space exploration, India has a significant advantage, according to the researcher.
"China is still under rigid restrictions on any form of cooperation with the United States, including on the purchase of components … The Chinese are forced to do many things on their own and they sometimes cannot produce components of a required level. The Indians have less resources, but they are in good relations with everyone. India can cooperate with both Russia and the West, adopting their best technologies," Kashin concluded.
Earlier on Friday, China launched an experimental spacecraft to the moon orbit, which is to return to Earth in eight days. The spacecraft is to test out re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere for the planned 2017 Chang'e-5 lunar mission.