New space race emerging as more countries achieve goals with space programs
Approximately 70 countries have space programs
Russia, China, and India appear to be vying for the title in the new space race
A new space race appears to be budding with China, India, and Russia vying for the title. China watched its first lunar rover, Jade Rabbit, successfully land on the moon sending photos back to Earth before beginning its mission earlier this month.
“Now as Jade Rabbit has made its touchdown on the moon surface the whole world again marvels at China’s remarkable space capabilities.” claims state-run Xinhua news agency. China’s Cabinet, and the Central Military Commission hailed the mission as a “milestone” in the development of China’s space programs, a “new glory” in Chinese explorations and the “outstanding contribution” of China in mankind’s peaceful use of space, Xinhua said.
India launched its first orbitor with a course set for Mars in November. The Mangalyaan spacecraft has successfully left Earth’s gravitational pull and is set to reach Mars in September of 2014. “These missions are important. These are things that give Indians happiness and bragging rights,” said Raghu Kalra of the Amateur Astronomers Association Delhi. “Even a poor person, when he learns that my country is sending a mission to another planet, he will feel a sense of pride for his country, and he will want to make it a better place.”
Among this new space race, approximately 70 countries currently have space programs. The pressure is on the U.S. to stay abreast if not on top of the new space race, and aid these budding space programs.
Buzz Aldrin , former astronaut states, “A number of nations have evolved their capabilities to put humans into space and beyond Earth. We should help contribute to their exploration.”
Although the U.S. may still barely hold the forefront of space programs due to its success with the difficult maneuvering and deposit of the Curiosity on Mars, how long will this grasp stay valid? NASA now receives approximately 0.5 percent of the federal budget that had originally been four percent during the initial space race. Next year’s budget is slated to be $18 billion with some in Congress wishing for further cuts.
Currently, the only way that NASA has to get astronauts to the International Space Station is to hitch a ride with Russia for $71 million. NASA’s ultimate goal is to have private companies take astronauts to the ISS. The need that NASA’s budget shortcomings has created has opened up lucrative opportunities in the private market, which may eventually lead to commercial space flights becoming common practice.