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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 Viditor on 7/13/2008 12:05:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
At every turn we had the Democrats crying that the poor, seniors and other Entitlement programs reciepents, were more important than spaceflight.

Ummm...it was the Democrats that gave us the huge lead in the first place

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people.
For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own.
Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war.
I do not say the we should or will go unprotected against
the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of
ours.
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet.
Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful
cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal?
And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain?
Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the moon.
We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize
and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.


...

"This nation has tossed its cap over the wall of
space, and we have no choice but to follow it."

--Pres. John F. Kennedy, Remarks at the dedication of the
Aerospace Medical Health, Center, San Antonio, Texas,
November 21, 1963


By BBeltrami on 7/13/2008 7:08:15 PM , Rating: 3
"Mr. President, there's this problem in Cuba, sir. It's the Bay of Pigs, sir."

Pregnant pause.

President points wild-eyed at sky in opposite direction.

"Look! What's that?! The Moon! How about we go there, boys!!"

Mel Brooks where are you when we need "History of the World, Part II"?!


By masher2 (blog) on 7/13/2008 11:05:27 PM , Rating: 3
> "Ummm...it was the Democrats that gave us the huge lead in the first place."

While *a* Demoncrat certainly made the above speech, Mercury/Gemini/Apollo enjoyed more congressional funding support from Republicans than from Democrats. And, from the moment we set foot on the moon, the primary impetus behind funding cuts for NASA has always been more Democratic. long-time Democratic Senator William Proxmire, for instance, was famous for his attempts to shut NASA down.

NASA funding declined under Carter, Clinton, and most of Johnson's reign. It rose under Reagan and both Bushes. In fact, the only Republican president to ever preside over a NASA budget decline was Nixon, and he was only bowed to the drop after stringent demands from both Congress and the public. And in fact, Nixon fought for and won funding for the Space Shuttle.

One can say a lot of bad things about the Republicans. But historically, they've always been much stronger supporters of the space program.


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