Posts Tagged ‘China’

Why Would You Go Into Space?

January 27, 2010

Later this year NASA plans to retire its remaining Space Shuttles signaling an end to another era of manned space flights.  The replacement for the space shuttle is lauded to be the Ares 1 rocket but developmental issues have left many people wondering whether the USA have a future in human space exploration.  With the International Space Station possibly set to crash into the Pacific Ocean in 2015 is the whole future of mankind in space in jeopardy?

The original manned space missions were little more than exhibitions of power between the USSR and USA.  During the “Cold War” grand gestures such as sending a man to the moon meant something to both the governments and people of each country.  Now 50% of american people believe the money spent on NASA should be cut. After the break up of the Soviet Union the USA emerged as the singular global superpower.  The USA have nothing to prove or gain from sending people into space.  NASA’s focus in recent years has been looking for life in space rather than sending it into orbit.  Missions to explore mars, looking for water on the moon and searching Jupiter’s moons for signs of life can all be done effectively with robots.

If sending people into the depths of space no longer appeals to the american people or government, who is interested?  Recent years have seen a few odd eccentrics pay to be sent into orbit. Space flight is being looking into by a number of commercial ventures, including Virgin Galactic, but its likely that commercial missions will focus of sending satellites into space.  There are two emerging powers that are making strides to fill the human shaped void in space left by the USA. India and China have both signaled their intentions to send people into space, once again prestige is the reason. Recently industrialised  China (taikonauts) and India (the newly named vyomanauts) feel they need to prove to the world both there ambitions and financial clout. Billions will be spent, but will it really be worth it?  China already exudes a massive influence on the world’s economy, it has nothing to prove.  Would we be impressed anyway?