Saturday, April 5, 2008

No hurry around the Moon these days

India pushed to delay its mooncraft; Japan and China to prolong successful missions, US prepares its autumn's launch and Europe's discussing next steps.

These days there is no hectic activity around the Moon. Japanese and Chinese officials announced extending their successful Kaguya and Chang'e-1 orbiter missions, that are currently taking place. In both cases, missions were originally design for about a year-long life; but with fluent progress of all orbiting crafts and no signs of natural retirement, space authorities in both countries try to receive as much data extra as possible. And in the best case, not to finish mission before its regional opponent. Both Japan a China lead autonomous space and moon programs and plan to launch a lander craft about 2013-2015 period.

India's Chandrayaan-1 mission which is to carry both ESA and Nasa's scientific instruments was delayed from original August to the first week of July. Nothing so special in the Earth nation's space agendas.

US is still quite far from launching its ambitious moon mission in autumn and there are no signs of possible delaying so far. In addition, there are quite extensive space base concept being considered in more and more detailed aspects. The US plan of base -as declared- is gonna be started perhaps somewhen in the period of 2020's. However, with the ongoing presidential debate among Obama, Clinton and McCain there are also changing and sometimes clashing perspectives of the moon activities and space policy generally. While McCain appears to be cordial fan of Bush's space "Vision" program for intensive human spaceflight and exploration, Obama is known for his reserved approach to current NASA. Explicitly, Obama says, he "believed in final frontier" but didn't agree with the proposed manner of exploration. He opposes human spaceflight, especially the push for man on Mars, as ineffective and expensive. Instead, he'd like to invest saved money into US intern social and education programs. As the moonbase concept is often considered spring board for future trips to Mars, this approach could have implicit impacts even for US Moon activities.

ESA has full hands with watching - so far extremely successful - ATV Jules Verne craft porting to ISS. On the European political level, the approved draft of the new EU treaty (to be ratified in upcoming two years) list the space policy as an area that should be discussed and voted in the European Council (by the heads of states) which could to lead to more united stance on space policy. There are also signs that ESA could be soon joined by some new EU members (Hungary, Czech rep., Romania or Poland).


Jenny Liverpool said...

I couldn't agree more, it really is an important angle to study.

Jenny Liverpool said...

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