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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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RE: What do Americans realistically expect?
By 1prophet on 7/12/2008 1:11:33 PM , Rating: 5
We landed and took off from the moon six times not just once, nobody is going to pull a hoax like that and not get caught.

RE: What do Americans realistically expect?
By ultimaone on 7/13/2008 11:06:53 AM , Rating: 2
plus i think the russians went there too....
did the USA and USSA conspire together !!!

i don't think so...that cold war thing and all

By Queequeg on 7/14/2008 2:24:13 AM , Rating: 5
Probably the most irrefutable evidence that we actually landed on the moon are the retroreflectors left at several of the Apollo landing sites. They're an array of "corner" mirrors - three surfaces at 90 degrees to each other. When light hits such a corner, it gets reflect back exactly where it came from. The same principle is used in bike reflectors and the reflective paint used on road signs.

If you aim a powerful laser at one of the landing sites, you will get a faint return from these reflectors. They're used to accurately measure the distance from the earth to the moon.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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