I meant to post this on April 12, Yuri's Night
but as school and work would have it, I didn't meet that
Room with a view: New nations gear up to send people into space in the next few years.
It has been 12 years since China became the third nation after the United States and Russia/Soviet Union to launch a human spaceflight mission on
October 15, 2003 when Shenzhou 5
blasted Yang Liwei into space on a 14 orbit mission. China
followed this up with further human space flights, the launch of Tiangong-1, their first space station and their first woman in space, taikonaut Liu
Yang (pictured above).
So which nation will be next? And does it even matter anymore?
It should be noted that while 64 nations have a space agency
only 10 have
the capability to launch anything into space.
And of those, as I mentioned above, only 3: Russia, the USA and China have launched humans into space.
It should also be noted the the European Space Agency's massive ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) cargo ship was human-rated (pictured above with crew
inside while docked at the ISS) and a version 2 of it may actually carry humans to the International Space Station and be used as a space tug.
However next year two more nations will begin testing their human spaceflight vehicles: India and Iran.
India has been successful in space having recently reached Mars with a space probe on their first attempt. Something neither the US nor Russia
achieved and something which China hasn't yet attempted.
India also has planned an extensive human spaceflight launch capability
which will culminate its first human mission to low-Earth orbit in 2021.
Similar to NASA's EFT-1 (Engineering Test Flight-1) of its deep space Orion capsule, ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) will launch their full
autonomous IOV (ISRO Orbital Vehicle - pictured above) on an unmanned test flight in 2016.
The IOV will be larger than NASA's old Gemini capsule but smaller than Apollo and carry three astronauts into low Earth orbit. It is being built with
the capability of docking with the International Space Station and other future space stations.
ISRO plans to use for IOV spaceship the GSLV-Mk II launcher. About 16 minutes after lift-off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota,
the rocket will inject the OV into an orbit, 300 km-400 km (185-250 mi) from the Earth. When returning to Earth the capsule would return for a
splashdown in the Bay of Bengal.
Iran's human spaceflight program looks like they've created their own version of NASA's Mercury capsule.
Iran's Iranian Space Research Center (ISRC) has previously successfully launched satellites and has long been rumored to be working on a human
In January of 2013 it launched a monkey and later that year in December following the launch of another monkey, the country proclaimed they had the
capability to launch a monkey into space and return it safely to Earth.
In February of this year they revealed plans to launch an astronaut into space in 2016 aboard the Kavoshgar spacecraft pictured above. The spaceship
will carry a single astronaut to a 175 km height and return it to the earth.
BEYOND 2020: Rising Sun
Other nations are planning independent human spaceflight programs. Most notable is Japan's JAXA
which has flirted with the idea of an independent human spaceflight capability
with their HOPE-X spaceplane program and others. Japanese astronauts also have flown to the ISS but the nation has remained interested in their own
launch capability as a long term plan.
Like NASA Japan has returned to the idea of using a capsule and is planning to evolve its current H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) cargo ship (pictured
above on its way to the ISS) into a crewed vehicle in the 2022 time frame
with the addition of capsules which will accommodate a crew of 3 and carry
up to 880 pounds (400 kilograms) of cargo.
SPACE SAMBA: Brazil's long-term plans
Brazil first successfully launched
a satellite in 2004
JAXA is considering two different versions of the capsule, which would have a similar internal volume to SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. The
15,400-pound (6,985 kg) variant employs parachutes, while the 19,800-pound (8,981 kg) model uses a more maneuverable parafoil for greater landing
accuracy to within a 1.9-mile (3 kilometers) radius.
The heavier capsule would be able to land on solid ground, while the lighter model would only touch down at sea. JAXA also foresees further
development of the capsule for exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, officials said.
when a two-stage rocket, named VSB-30, or Brazilian Exploration Vehicle, was launched in late October of that year from the
Alcantara launch site in Maranhao, about 1,700 miles north of Rio de Janeiro.
In the 11 years since then Brazil has been moving forward quietly with its space program, and in 2006 a Brazilian astronaut, Marcos Pontes, flew to
the ISS (pictured above) onboard a Russian Soyuz capsule.
Brazil's Agencia Espacial Brasileira (AEB) is their equivalent to NASA initially worked closely with NASA but after problems with technology transfers
has began working closely with China, India, Russia and the Ukraine. The burgeoning space program operates from a spaceport at Alcantara and a rocket
launch site at Barreira do Inferno.
The AEB is still a bilateral partner of NASA in the International Space Station. The agreement for the design, development, operation and use of
Brazilian developed flight equipment and payloads for the Space Station was signed in 1997 and included the development of six items, among which are
a Window Observational Research Facility and a Technology Experiment Facility. In return, NASA provided Brazil with access to its ISS facilities
on-orbit, as well as a flight opportunity for one Brazilian astronaut (Marcos Pontes) during the course of the ISS program.
However future Brazilian astronauts may need not travel to Russia or the USA to get into orbit.
The rise of commercial spaceflight companies like Virgin Galactic, Golden Spike and Bigelow Aerospace now has AEB in reportedly in contact with
several to potentially purchase launchers an even space station modules.
And that perhaps is the biggest difference between the old Cold War driven "Space Race" and human spaceflight's future.
edit on 18-4-2015 by
JadeStar because: (no reason given)