Asia Could Win Next 'Space Race', US Scientists Fear
While the achievements of space programmes run by China, Japan and India are modest in comparison to the milestones set by the United States and former Soviet Union, experts at a recent conference in Pasadena believe it is only a matter of time before Asia leads the field.
China, which sent a man into space for the first time in 2003, plans to launch its own moon probe before the end of the year, followed by India in the first half of 2008. Japan kick-started the Asian lunar race on September 14 when it successfully launched its first lunar orbiter.
While China and India have raised the possibility of a manned lunar mission within the next decade, the United States has vowed to return to the Moon in 2020, 48 years after the last US visit. NASA meanwhile has set the ambitious target of wanting to put a man on Mars in 2037.
"When we celebrate 100 years of Sputnik, we might celebrate the 20th anniversary of man landing on Mars," Frank Griffin, NASA's chief administrator said recently.
But many astrophysicists, space engineers and other high-ranking US scientists do not share Griffin's optimism, pointing to waning interest in space exploration amongst young Americans and a lack of government investment in developing elite scientists.
"In America, contrary to our self-image, we are no longer leaders but simply players," said Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium in a recent editorial.
"We've moved backward just by standing still." (Daily News & Analysis)
***** I wonder if the time will come when we shall take our place among the top space-faring nations of the world. Is the journey by our very own astronaut in the next few weeks a small step in the right direction?
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Related post: Asian Spacefarers Locked In Lunar Race.
Relevant link: Space Expedition: What's Next?
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