India Delays Human Space Launch

Posted by on Jun 14, 2010 in Blog, India, Space Race, Video | 0 comments

After promising the world that India would become a space power by 2015, it looks as if the world’s largest democracy is now scheduling its first human encounter with the stars by 2017.

India has aspirations to establish a lunar colony in the future as well, and has even proposed teaming up with Japan as well as Russia to help achieve their space goals.

Hopefully the land of a billion people will be able to to meet its timeline within seven years, as any further delay could result in India ceding dominance to China (who currently reigns as the space king in the east).

(via Spaceports)

Read More

Mystery Chinese Space Stations?

Posted by on Jan 21, 2010 in Blog, China, Space Race, Space Stations | 0 comments

As any regular space geek would inform you, America’s favorite frenemy China is envisioning space stations orbiting our home world in the future.

The question everyone is asking however is when are they going to launch it–and will it be friendly?

(Space Daily) We could be less than a year away from the launch of Tiangong-1, China’s first space laboratory. We’ve been expecting this launch for years, but relatively little is still known about this mission. […]

What do we know for sure? Tiangong seems to consist of a short, cylindrical pressurized module, with not much more internal volume for the crew than a Shenzhou spacecraft. To the rear of this is a service module, containing two solar panel wings, a propulsion system and other gear. The service module has a slightly smaller diameter than the pressurized module.

Although we can guestimate the overall specs of China’s upcoming space station, we probably still do not know whether the new Chinese space station will be friendly or unfriendly (i.e. militaristic or challenging in nature).

China has made incredible strides in space in their attempt to catch up the NASA (as well as the Russians).

But until America can determine China’s overall purpose for embracing the stars, we may see a more confrontational approach later on–which could potentially translate into a second global space race. 🙂

(Image Credit: NASA)

Read More

Russia To Mars: Lets Go Nuclear!

Posted by on Oct 29, 2009 in Blog, Mars, Rockets, Russia, Space Race | 1 comment

It looks like the nation that pioneered the path the final frontier may help push humanity forward once again–plus or minus a “little” risk.

(Mars Daily) Since current rocket technologies are not sufficient for the future exploration of Mars and the whole Solar system, and since no alternative energy resources have been found as of now, the only possible way to implement those projects would be by using nuclear energy, [Vitaly] Lopota[, President and Chief Designer of Russia’s Energia Aerospace Corporation] said at an academic conference on aerospace.

While nuclear rockets may be the most practical way to reach Mars, it may also set off a dangerous precedent as unstable nations (like Iran) may seek nuclear options as a way to transport their astronauts to Mars (and beyond).

Either way it may be the necessary step to help humanity embrace the heavens above, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Russia choose this path (despite the controversy).

Read More

The Future Of Space Lies East: Chinese Space Stations Vs America's Timid Nature

Posted by on Sep 10, 2009 in Blog, China, NASA, Space Race, Space Stations | 1 comment

Image Credit: Mark Wade of Astronautix.com

(Image: a model of the Chinese space station at the Chinese Pavilion, Hannover Expo. Credit: © Mark Wade of Astronautix.com)

With the release of the Augustine Report not too long ago, there has been a flurry of outcry regarding the future of humanity, most notably from the Mars Society.

While some may lament the fall of the western space age (thanks in part to the Great Depression 2.0), others may have to look east for a new hope (pun intended).

(Space Daily) China will begin the construction of its own orbital space station in 2020, the Sina news service said on Monday, citing a top official with the country’s manned spaceflight program.

Gu Yidong said that China would sent two or three space labs into orbit in 2010-2015, while the basic module of the space station is to be orbited by 2020.

The fact that China is building a space station is hardly surprising, seeing as they are not exactly allowed on the International Space Station (due to political/security reasons).

However China’s heavenly ascent is in direct contrast to what is happening in the west, as NASA is (once again) being neutered by its bureaucratic overlords.

(Physorg.com) Five years ago, then-President George W. Bush proposed returning astronauts to the moon by 2020. To pay for it, he planned on retiring the shuttle next year and shutting down the international space station in 2015. […]

The panel also said the space shuttle should continue flying until early 2011 to finish all its space station work and that it can’t realistically retire by Oct. 1, 2010 as the Bush administration planned.

The panel called “unwise” the Bush plan to shut down the space station in 2015 and steer it into the ocean, after 25 years of construction and only five years of fully operational life. The space station’s life should be extended, the panel said.

Note: Emphasis mine

Instead of the US canceling the International Space Station (especially with cheaper and safer models coming from the private sector), our glorious government is content to spend more money ensuring that we encircle the globe for the next few decades.

While NASA does have ambitious goals of eventually establishing a moon base, it can not do that without sacrificing the “fat,” and seems more concerned with offending international partners than advancing into the heavens beyond.

NASA’s hope may lie in partnering with the private sector, but unless they receive greater backing from their political superiors, the future citizens of the solar system may be reading space history in Chinese rather than English.

Read More

Why Japan Needs To Embrace Human Spaceflight

Posted by on Mar 20, 2009 in Blog, Japan, Space Race | 1 comment

(Hat Tip: Hobby Space)

Earlier this month, the land of the rising sun decided to reverse its robotic space policy and actually embrace the idea of sending flesh and blood to explore the heavens above.

(Mainichi Daily News) The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) wants “to have the technology for independent manned missions,” President Keiji Tachikawa announced last month, in a reversal of Japan’s policy against manned space exploration.

The plan on manned space missions was due to be mentioned in a meeting of an expert panel at the government’s space development strategy headquarters on Friday. While not setting any specific time frame, it does call for a review of current policy on manned space missions as part of plans for the proposed Space Solar Power System (SSPS), and a future manned mission to the moon.

This is a smart (although late) move for Japan, who had to watch as their rival China conducted its first spacewalk (establishing the Asian giant as the dominant space power).

Although Japan has successfully launched a satellite around the Moon (in HD nonetheless), they need to place more emphasis on sending their own citizens into space, especially now that China is intent on building a military space station by the end of next year.

Unlike their silicon beasts that roam the heavens above, a human presence will help the Japanese establish a public claim to outer space (as robots can always be blasted out of the sky without raising too much public outrage).

Read More

Why A NASA-Pentagon Merger Would Help (And Hurt) America

Posted by on Jan 5, 2009 in Blog, NASA, Politics, Space Race | 2 comments

(Hat Tip: Tales of the Heliosphere and AstroEngine, Image Credit: ExDream.com)

Rumor has it that President Elect Barack Obama’s transition team is seriously considering “tearing down the walls” that prevents the Pentagon from working with NASA.

(Bloomberg) President-elect Barack Obama will probably tear down long-standing barriers between the U.S.’s civilian and military space programs to speed up a mission to the moon amid the prospect of a new space race with China.

Obama’s transition team is considering a collaboration between the Defense Department and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration because military rockets may be cheaper and ready sooner than the space agency’s planned launch vehicle, which isn’t slated to fly until 2015, according to people who’ve discussed the idea with the Obama team. […]

“If China puts a man on the moon, that in itself isn’t necessarily a threat to the U.S.,” said Dean Cheng, a senior Asia analyst with CNA Corp., an Alexandria, Virginia-based national-security research firm. “But it would suggest that China had reached a level of proficiency in space comparable to that of the United States.”

According to Bloomberg, the Pentagon’s space budget is approximately $22 billion (which is 33% larger than NASA’s budget). By allowing both agencies to collaborate together, NASA would be able to easily retire the shuttle as well as prepare for an eventual moon landing.

This could also benefit the Pentagon as it could help encourage citizens to join a “future space force” (which would make the Pentagon very happy).

Unfortunately a marriage between civilian and military would have its draw backs as well, since an alliance between the two could alienate NASA from future space allies like India and Japan who may not be open towards partnering with foreign military agencies.

It could also change NASA’s focus from scientific exploration of the universe to a more “divide and conquer” approach (which in the long run could help the US to eventually conquer the solar system).

Read More