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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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Space RACE?!!!
By JonnyDough on 7/13/2008 5:41:59 PM , Rating: 2
How is it a race if we share data, work collectively, etc...

I guess I'm a bit confused. I thought it was a global objective to explore space, not a U.S. one.

If NASA still considers it to be a "space race" then why have they been working collaboratively for the last few decades? Why share information with other nations? Surely China and Russia (remember Russia's economical fallout and China's new economy?) would not be where they are today if we did not share vital statistics and research with them. As such, one can hardly call this a "competition" or "race." This isn't about "who does it first." Scientists generally don't like politicians, do they? Sure, they get money from the buggers via grants, but they beg for every dollar. Those that find their own means of funding are held higher among their peers I believe. Referring to space scientists as "competitors" is degrading, regardless of where their funding comes from. But then, some do like to blow tax payer cash.

I'd just like a bit more understanding and elaboration, I feel as if I don't really know who's competitive with who here in this so called "race."




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