Aug 03 2008
On July 29, NASA announced a new, groundbreaking multinational agreement with 8 countries — India, Japan, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and South Korea — to cooperatively explore the Moon using the International Lunar Network (ILN).
ILN will feature 6 – 8 fixed or mobile landers on the Moon with the first being launched in 2013 or 2014, about the time that the next Maslow Window starts to slide open. This “international flotilla” of unmanned landers and rovers will allow all 8 countries plus NASA to be intimately involved in mission planning, operations, and science, as well as in sharing costs.
According to James Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division, “Many of these countries are quite interested in the manned program. They want to provide astronauts to be the first Canadian or the first Italian or the first French man or French woman on the moon.”
As I’ve indicated recently (“NASA’s Challenging Future“) this is exactly the type of thing NASA needs to be doing now to improve the odds that we’ll enter the 2015 Maslow Window in an international cooperative mode, instead of in something reminiscent of the Cold War and Sputnik. Ideally ILN will eventually evolve into a truly global space agency — that includes all the major space powers — of much broader scope.
The Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASTC) recently announced that, “China aims to attain the world level in space technology development by building a comprehensive aerospace industry by 2015,” (Beijing on 7/25). Both the date and the goal are consistent with our expectations for China (See “10 Reasons China is Good for Space“) at 21stCenturyWaves.com.
Founded in 1999, the state-owned company intends to expand from its current 4 science and technology centers (Beijing, Shanghai, Shanxi and Sichuan) by adding 4 new bases in Tianjin, Inner Mongolia and Hainan. “The new format will benefit the local economy and society, especially when it becomes part of the strategic development of north China’s Bohai region, south China’s Pearl River Delta, and the country’s western area,” said Ma Xingrui, a CASTC official.
By 2015 — the opening of the next Maslow Window — CASTC’s business plan includes capturing 10% of the world commercial satellite market and 15% of the world commercial launch market. The expansion’s intent is to capitalize on the 50 successful launches of its Long March series and to support its growing manned space program. China’s third manned launch is planned for October.
The next race to space appears to be right on schedule.