Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Asian space race getting hotter

Whoa whoa whoa! No matter how convincingly will Chinese authorities be denying the existence of undeclared but ongoing Asian Space race, another and another steps and proclamations of East Asian governments are confirming this reality. South Korea proclaimed its aim to launch own Moon orbiter by 2020!

Taking into consideration the problematic formal international sovereignty of Hong Kong and Taiwan, the South Korea was the last of the economically or politically dominant entities in region to publish such an ambition.

By 2025 they plan launch a Moon lander, in addition. Which is aprox. the time when US, China and others calculate to put a human on the surface and begin with construction of permanent
base(s). Korea is not space novice; by now it has more than 11 satellites on Earth's orbit. True, none of them was lifted of by their own launching technologie..

To get the race hotter even more, China proclaimed it will launch another manned mission including first space walk in 2008 just after Beijing-placed Olympics..

India signed an agreemet to launch Chandrayaan - 2 with Russia (continuation of Chandrayaan-1 which is calculated to be launched in March 08 and carry European survey device) . Now the project could include both orbiter and Moon lander. India demonstrates its huge will to join ongoing race even though it has not enough capabilities to lead complete space/Moon program alone.

And finally, still the most promising space power - the US - begin to feel the growing pressure from China in the space area. That's how I said somewhere, the reasonable level of competing tensions in international system is the best state to lead effective human extraplanet expansion.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Japan, China on orbit; India gonna join and Germany publishes its dreams

Moon is taking place in mainstream earth news nowadays. Why? At this moment and for about a year or so, Japanese and Chinese probes are cruising Moon's orbit. No, it's not about joint project. But the situation where Japan and China (historical, modern and perhaps even future Earth's tribe rivals) are launching suspiciously similar Moon projects and India (China's historical tribe rival number 2) is polishing surface of its own Moon orbital Chandrayaan-1, was refused to be called Asian space race by Chinese officials though.

Chandrayaan, by the way, is also hope of Europeans associated in ESA. It's gonna carry European technological module, that's gonna help with moon survey. As everything on European peninsula, ESA mixes tribal level with the supra-tribal one. Old tribal pride combined with incapability to achieve national glory by itself led to connecting forces with others. And space requires really huge amount of capabilities to be invested. But back to space!

Europeans together achieved to probe Moon by their SMART-1 project last year. Since then, there has been no signs of efforts to continue with Moon. ESA, instead, focus more on Mars, Earth related project and modest efforts to explore further Solar system. As well as exploration efforts also ESA's budget can be called modest. Perhaps, European peninsula miss kind of tribal rivals as China has.

What's worth mentioning in this situation, is that Germany - one of Europe's leading tribes, with really huge amount of historical rivals - called for its own lunar probe to be launched. Even though not so clearly, the very similar idea was mentioned by British who are now discussing whether to lift their moratorium on human spaceflights. It will be funny to watch whether this can lead to any kind of European space race. Perhaps not, but certain implications will surely come. How will ESA react? Their intergovermental meetings is gonna take place soon, so we will then see if there are some changes in idea of "exploring space together" or not.