There is a race going and we are not part of it and we all know if you’re not in a race, you can’t be a winner and that is on many fronts. As Asia’s current space race could also turn into an arms race akin to what we saw in the days of the Cold War. Well that is I guess according to James Clay Moltz, who is a professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School.
As he writes that the major Asian nations, namely China, Japan, India, and South Korea, are all investing monies to expand their space programs [are we? No] with little-to-no cooperation. While these efforts appear to be driven by want of national prestige there also exist geopolitical rivalries, similar to the ones faced by the US and Soviet’s in the space race of the 1960s. The thing is and what most westerners forget is that during the period of the “space race” it stimulated technological advancements which made us who we are today [and thus missing out on for the future].
While competing agendas in Asia are leading to a duplication of work and mistrust among the countries involved. Where is also the waste of resources while even worse [for us], is this “competition” if you will is also undermining recent cooperation which has been built up between the US, Russia, and Europe.
As unlike here in the west, Asia doesn’t have any type of regional security organization such as NATO. So when you add this fact with the long-standing feuds seen between nations such as China & India, India & Pakistan, to of course North Korea & South Korea, and on and on and on, well you get the idea as cant we all just get along? Means a civilian space race could turn into an arms race as what other good use of could there be for a big rocket, let see [insert thinking time here]. Aah yes, an ICBM and guess what, yes a big rocket makes for bad bomb building techniques. As thermo nuclear bombs are easy to build, however it’s hard to make them small, so the issue has been one of “delivery”, whereas have big [rocket] then can deliver.
On the other front, each of these nations has performed separate lunar-mapping missions since 2007, with planned follow ups which will include the deployment of rovers, landers, and lunar bases. Again without any cooperation, even though a lot of the work will be redundant. Even our friends in Japan are climbing fast with the most human spaceflight experience in the region. As with 15 manned flights since 1992 along with a paid membership in the International Space Station. However it has always had to hitchhike a ride with either us or Russia.
Here China on the other hand as launched its first astronaut in only 2003 along with many follow-up flights since. To its most recent accomplishment of launching a Tiangong-1 orbital test module for a planned 2020 space station all on its own! While not to be out done, India who feels a little earth bound has announced a planned manned flight to take place in 2016. Have to wonder if they are interested in buying a fleet of slightly used space shuttles?
Worth noting is they don’t also plan to stop with manned spaceflight efforts either, as the three major nations also have plans to deploy their own solutions to the US-maintained Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite network. In fact, China has already deployed over one third of its planned 35-satellite “BeiDou” network in orbit Note worthy too is ours are old, theirs are new.
The long story short is we the west are being left behind, we have retired our only good manned way to space and depend now upon others for rides aloft. We have forgotten how to go to the moon as well as “this that and the other thing”, god speed John Glenn…