"There’s going to be a new world order out there, and we’ve got to lead it,” U.S. President Joe Biden said after Russia’s war in Ukraine upended global geopolitics. Far from Earth, that transition is already happening.

Just like in the era of Sputnik and Apollo more than half a century ago, world leaders are again racing to achieve dominance in outer space. But there’s one big difference: Whereas the U.S. and the Soviet Union hashed out a common set of rules at the United Nations, this time around the world’s top superpowers can’t even agree on basic principles to govern the next generation of space activity.

The lack of cooperation between the U.S. and China on space exploration is particularly dangerous in an era where the cosmos is becoming more crowded. Billionaires such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos along with emerging markets such as Rwanda and the Philippines are launching more and more satellites to bridge the digital divide and explore commercial opportunities.