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The U.S. used to only compete with Russia, but now has multiple other nations to deal with

The U.S. is losing ground to competing space agencies as Europe, China, Russia and Japan continue to make progress in their space programs.  Even though the U.S. still has the most military satellites monitoring Earth, both commercial and civilian space initiatives are severely lacking when compared to its international counterparts.

There are several contributing factors into the decline of the U.S. space agency, though immediate fixes are not evident.  Even though NASA has a long string of success, the unfortunate shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, budget issues, and the looming 2010 retirement of the current generation of space shuttles are all complicating matters.

"We spent many tens of billions of dollars during the Apollo era to purchase a commanding lead in space over all nations on Earth," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said.  "We've been living off the fruit of that purchase for 40 years and have not ... chosen to invest at a level that would preserve that commanding lead."

Although Russia has been a long-time competitor to NASA, the Chinese space agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have continued to make steady progress with its intended goals.

Along with multiple missions to Mars, China is preparing for stage two of a three-part mission to the moon.  The first step in the plan, which is ongoing, included sending a satellite to orbit the moon.  The second step proposes launching a lunar lander before 2010, and the third step involves collecting soil samples from the moon in the next 12 years.

The Chinese space program also has its first spacewalk scheduled for October. Griffin admits China will likely beat the U.S. and other nations back to the moon.

India also has a developing space program that may not have the type of budget of larger space programs, but the country still has had success launching smaller missions that have shown good results.  Its most recent success was a satellite launch in which 10 satellites launched into orbit aboard one rocket.

The U.S. space agency does have its own mission outline for the next 12 years, but may struggle to meet its goals if the Orion crew vehicle is not completed on time in 2015.

NASA used to be responsible for sending other nations' satellites into orbit, but now Russia, India, and China are the three main nations responsible for helping Israel, Brazil, Singapore and the ESA launch satellites into space.

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So what?
By tim851 on 7/12/2008 10:40:44 AM , Rating: 3
What is a lead in the space race worth?

Getting a human on mars is like spending 4 trillion dollars for a trip to the Sahara desert. That's a lot of money for some jars with dust and a handful of rocks.

RE: So what?
By michal1980 on 7/12/2008 1:18:47 PM , Rating: 2
imho, goverment money spent on exploration and research is money that is better spent.

we wasted billions on the war on poverty and we still have 'poor' people.

Doing something never done before, is a much higher goal of mankind, then sitting around doing nothing

RE: So what?
By Noya on 7/12/2008 3:39:27 PM , Rating: 4
we wasted billions on the war on poverty and we still have 'poor' people.

Or how about the trillions (officers/courts/prisons) wasted on the "War on (deemed illegal) Drugs" while any high school kid can get a variety of street drugs easier than they can get alcohol?

Or how about the $3 trillion + it's going to cost for the "Iraq Occupation" when you take into account care for all the vets and so forth? What good came out of that?
Crude has quadrupled in price since the invasion.

spent on exploration

Doing something never done before, is a much higher goal of mankind, then sitting around doing nothing

Yeah, we need a revolutionary power source for that to happen. And if their was one, I doubt Joe Public would be privy to it...maybe 20+ years later.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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