This post is something for fun. I am not sure I'll be back in the space exploration forum again, but I thought it might be interesting as a mental
exercise to summarize what is going around the world right now for the future of human spaceflight. The US, Russia and China are at the forefront,
but we are hardly alone in our attempts to get people into space, even deep space. I will start here with some of the other countries and then work
towards the US. We're kinda the big kids, but...
India wants to have an independent human spaceflight capability. While they appreciate working with the US and Russia, they view human spaceflight as
a sign of being a great power. I think most of us here would agree with that and they are working to that end. Unfortunately, except in a few
situations progress with a lot of projects for India is not terribly quick. Limited budgets and cultural issues (and I don't mean Indian culture as a
whole, but rather their contracting/procurement culture) has been causing their program to go rather slowly.
In December 2014, India launched
a prototype space
capsule, not unlike what the rest of the world is testing on the debut flight of the GSLV Mk III. This capsule successfully made a splash down in the
On July 5th, 2018, they will be conducting
a pad abort
test. This is the escape system for the capsule should a problem be detected on the rocket. it's meant to pull the entire capsule away from the
launch vehicle as quickly as possible.
India is targeting a 2024 date for its first human spaceflight.
As of today, Russia are China are the only nations with an independent manned spaceflight capability. The United States retired its Space Shuttles in
2011 (oh gawd, *7* years ago?!). Since then, the US has been relying on rides on Russian rocket launches to get to the International Space Station.
The Russians have largely been using technology and equipment designed 30 years ago for their launch and human spaceflight capabilities, the
Progress Supply Vehicle
Soyuz space capsule
are remnants of another time. They are, however, very reliable. The
Russians have supplied some modules to the International Space Station. They haven't delivered the last two
) as yet and may
not do so before that space station is retired.
However, the Russians are not sitting on their rumps. They have their own plans going forward. However, whatever their plans may be, some grain of
salt should be taken for whatever announcement they may make. The Russians very loudly and proudly
the Kliper only for it to never materialize. They also announced plans that would have them
beat the US back to the Moon. Even so, they have been working on their next steps.
The next module Russia plans is the Federatisiya capsule. The capsule was selected in 2009 and the Russians put it to the public to name the capsule.
The name being selected is what it bares now. The Russians have
to the point of now doing wind
tunnel tests. Two different versions are planned. One for delivering cargo, much like the Progress does, and one for ferrying people, like the
The Russians have also announced and worked on building their own separate space station separate from the ISS or any future American space station.
They will do so, supposedly, by spinning off
of the ISS and then growing the station from there. Given there are two modules that have yet to make it into orbit, this seems plausible.
The Russians have stated they are joining the new space station the United States is building around the Moon, the one time Deep Space Gateway, now
named Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway
. What was really agreed upon is that
NASA and RosCosmos would study how the Russians could participate. It should be noted the reason the US built the ISS with Russia in the first place
was for a foreign policy reason: the US wanted to provide jobs for all the aerospace engineers who probably would have ended up looking for work in
other countries, such as the Middle East or China, after the Cold War ended. That motivation no longer exists. It remains to be seen if the US will
continue to collaborate with the Russians in space.
China has been making steady progress on their human spaceflight program. They have had six
to date starting in 2003 through the present. With the next launch currently planned for 2020. The Chinese in 2017
successfully launched their own unmanned cargo resupply ship, the Tianzhou
, that is
derived from the manned capsule, much like the Progress is derived from the Soyuz.
The Chinese have launched two separate, short term space stations termed 'space laboratories' by the Chinese:
. The Chinese
originally planned to build a third Tiangong, but have since cancelled that mission in favor of building their first modular space station.
The Chinese will start the construction of their first modular space
with the launch of the Tianhe-1 module as early as next year, but it could be delayed as late as 2022. However, given the Chinese are
planning on a 2020 launch for their next human spaceflight to rendezvous with the Tianhe-1, it would be safe to bet the launch of the module would be
sooner rather than later. China has made the offer
nation to send experiments to their upcoming space station via the UN.
China has unveiled their
for a crewed lunar
mission using their Long March 8 heavy lift rocket.
NASA has been barred by statute
from cooperating with the Chinese. This
stems, first, from the Hughes satellite incident where a Hughes satellite on a failed Chinese rocket was studied by the Chinese in depth back in the
late 90s and from some claims Chinese nationals were being given improper access to NASA research. Therefore, Congress passed a law declaring
cooperation on the aerospace front on any level with the Chinese to be verboten.
The United States
To be continued in the next post. ATS seems to have a post length limit. I'll get to that later today.
edit on 5-7-2018 by anzha because:
info came available as I posted. dangit.