I would think goals like getting humans to Mars or better imaging devices further out in space to see more of it or discovering ET life would be as much of an incentive as competition. No one really cares who got to the moon first nowadays but the fact that humans got there seems to serve the purpose. Only haters seem to care about who is better, smarter or more advanced. What a selfish waste of time.
We sit here in America and complain about racism, about giving equal rights but we're better than those russians right? Screw China but we'll buy all their products cause we're proud Americans? Same difference to me but studies and research continues each day without direct competition in many cases with the goals of treating diseases or other such advancements, not to say hahaha you other country.
However IF competition is so important then all those conspiracies of UFO crashes must be false because surely we would say hey, we discovered ET's first!
I think we as a country are too worried about being on top as foreign political influence and fighting power but yet who is really living it up as a result of not having all the baggage that goes with it? They may not have nukes or fancy tanks but they get nicer streets to drive on along with everything else...sheesh /rant