Asian space race

Asian space race

The Asian space race is a race among several Asian countries to achieve scientific and technological advancements in space.

A number of Asian nations have become serious contenders in the race to control space in recent years. [cite web
title = Asia Nations Gaining Ground in Space Race
url =
] In January 2007, China sent an anti-satellite missile into orbit to destroy an aging Chinese Feng Yun 1C polar orbit weather satellitecite web
title = Concern over China's missile test
url =
] . A month later, Japan's space agency (JAXA) has launched an experimental communications satellite designed to enable super high-speed data transmission in remote areas. India is hoping to launch its Chandrayaan-1 Moon mission in 2008. [cite web
title = Heated Space Race Under Way in Asia
url =
South Korea has also expressed its plans to enter the space race in 2008 with its completion of Naro Space Center, and the country’s first astronaut Yi So-yeon spent 11 days aboard the International Space Station in April 2008. [cite web
title = Korea to enter space race in 2008
url =
] As of 2008, China is the leader in Asia's space race. [cite web
title = Japan trying to catch China in Asia space race
url =
] Its space program has been in the spotlight since 2003, when China became the third country in the world to launch a manned spacecraft, after the former Soviet Union and the United States.cite web
title = China puts its first man in space
url =
] The issue of a space race's existence in Asia is still debated, China denies that there is an Asian Space Race. [cite web
title = China Denies There's an Asian Space Race
url =,2933,307440,00.html
] Apart from national pride, there are also commercial motivations. According to a report by the Space Frontier Foundation released in 2006, the "space economy" is estimated to be worth about $180 billion, with more than 60 percent of space-related economic activity coming from commercial goods and services.cite web
title = Shooting for the moon: The new space race
url =
] Outer space is also of strategic concern to a growing number of countries worldwide. Earth's orbit is becoming the main battle ground to ensure national security.While the achievements of space programs run by China, Japan and India are modest in comparison to the milestones set by the United States and the former Soviet Union, some experts believe it may only be a matter of time before Asia leads the field. [cite web
title = Asia could win next 'Space Race', US scientists fear
url =


China's first manned spacecraft entered orbit in October 2003, making it the first Asian nation and third after Russia and the United States to send a human into space.This event marked the beginning of a space race in the region. China successfully performed an EVA in September 2008. The motivations behind a new space race include national pride, national security and even commercial gain. Japan continues developing its manned spacecraft (HOPE-X) from the 80s.

Some analysts suggest that the Chinese manned space flight is closely linked to the nation's attempts to develop advanced military technology. [cite web
title = China's man in space gets mixed reaction
url =
] As well as national pride there are commercial drivers such as launching of satellites for communications, weather forecast and research of Earth's atmosphere. There are also some concernsweasel-inline|date=September 2008 among the Asian nations about the militarisation of space. China shocked the world in 2007 when it used a newly developed anti-satellite missile to destroy a defunct weather satellite, the Feng Yun 1-C, orbiting convert|528|mi|km above Earth. The resulting explosion sent a wave of debris hurtling through space at more than 6 miles per second. [cite web
title = Shooting down satellite raises concerns about military space race
url =
] On 21 February 2008 the US Navy destroyed a disabled spy satellite USA 193. The US denied the destruction of the satellite was a response to an anti-satellite test carried out by China in 2007. [cite web
title = Military satellites 'may get stealthy'
url =

Japan has been cooperating with the United States on missile defence since 1999. North Korean nuclear and Chinese military programs represent a serious issue for Japan's Foreign relations. [cite web
title = North Korea nuclear and China military programmes a worry: Japan
url =
] Japan is now working on military and civilian space technologies, developing missile defence systems, new generations of military spy satellites, and planning for manned stations on the moon. [cite web
title = Japan Joins U.S. in Dangerous Space Race
url =
] Japan started to construct spy satellites after North Korea test fired a Taepodong missile over Japan in 1998, although the North Korean government claimed the missile was merely launching a satellite to space [cite web
title = Japanese Satellites Work in Orbit Above Earth
url =
] accusing Japan of causing an arms race. The Japanese constitution adopted after World War II limits military activities to defensive operations. On May 2007 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a bold review of the Japanese Constitution to allow the country to take a larger role in global security and foster a revival of national pride. [cite web
title = Abe calls for a 'bold review' of Japanese Constitution
url =

India's interest in space travel began modestly in the early 1960s, when scientists launched a small rocket above the jungles of Kerala. [cite web
title = The dawn of a new space race?
url =
] While India's space program is relatively small, it has made considerable developments in recent years, putting a number of satellites into orbit. [cite web
title = India Limbers Up for Space Race As Prime Minister Asks for the Moon
url =
] Just a few days after China said that it would send a human into orbit in the second half of 2003, former Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee publicly urged his country's scientists to work towards sending a man to the Moon. [cite web
title = India 'on course' for the Moon
url =
] Chandrayaan-I, is India's first unmanned lunar mission and is expected to be launched in 2008. [cite web
title = India and US to explore the Moon
url =
] The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is its planning 2nd moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, in 2011. [cite web
title = What is Chandrayaan-2?
url =
] India expects a manned space mission by 2015. [ India plans manned space mission by 2015 - - ] ]

South Korea is a relatively new player in the Asian race for space. [cite web
title = South Korea joins Asian space race
url =
] In August 2006 South Korea launched its first military communications satellite, the Mugunghwa-5 satellite. The satellite was placed in geosynchronous orbit and is able to collect surveillance information on North Korea. [cite web
title = Abe calls for a 'bold review' of Japanese Constitution
url =
] The South Korean government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in space technology and is due to launch its first missile in 2008. [cite web
title = South Korea buys into space dream
url =
] South Korea's space program is justified by its government in terms of long-term commercial benefits and national pride. Seoul has long seen North Korea's significantly longer missile range as a serious threat to its national security. With the nation's first astronaut launched into Space, Lee So-yeon, South Korea gained confidence of entering Asian space race. Currently, the country is completing the construction of Naro Space Center. Once operational, South Korea will be able to build satellites and missiles with local technology. [cite web
title = Boost for South Korea's space program
url =
] South Korea is pursuing a space program that could defend the peninsula while lessening Seoul's dependency on the United States.

There have been reports of the two rising Asian powers, China and India's collaboration with EU to challenge American supremacy in space. In 2003 reports emerged that China will invest £140 million in the European Union's Galileo global satellite system and India will invest £210 million in the scheme. [cite web
title = China and India back EU's space race against US
url =
] However, hopes of India and China working closely on Global Satellite Navigation System were thrashed when Government of India approved the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System project and signed an agreement with Russia on future development of GLONASS. [ [ India, Russia Agree On Joint Development Of Future Glonas Navigation System ] ] Also, NASA's involvement in India's lunar mission and several other space-related projects [ [ NASA - NASA To Work With India on Moon Mission ] ] indicates growing collaboration between India and the United States in the field of space exploration.

The Moon race

Probing the moon

The Moon is thought to be rich in Helium-3, which could one day be used in nuclear fusion power plants to fuel future energy demands in Asia, which harbors over 60% of the world's population and among its fastest-growing economies.

Japan is the first Asian country to launch a lunar probe. The Hiten (Japanese: "flying angel") spacecraft (known before the launch as Muses-A), built by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of Japan, was launched on January 24, 1990. The mission did not go as it was planned in many aspects. Kaguya, is the second Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft and was launched on September 14, 2007. The mission is still ongoing.

China launched its first lunar probe named Chang'e-1 on October 24, 2007 and successfully entered lunar orbit on November 5, 2007.

Number of launched satellites

Few countries have successfully launched a satellite independently. The countries which have accomplished this include (in chronological order, as of February 2007), the Soviet Union, United States, France, Japan, China, United Kingdom, India and Israel. Kazakhstan has rocket and satellite development technology and hosts the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch facility which is used by other countries, particularly Russia. Brazil made three attempts at satellite launching in 1997, 1999 and 2003 but none of these were successful. North Korea has claimed to have launched a satellite, however that rocket fell into the North Pacific.

The total number of satellites launched in the World is 5,736 as of the end of 2006. About 88% of these were launched in either the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) or the US. [cite web|url=|accessdate=2008-05-03|format=PDF]
*Top 10 States by number of satellites launched (as of December of 2006). Joint possession is not included.

Asians on the moon

Almost four decades after Neil Armstrong has become the first man to walk on the Moon, Asia's major powers hurry in their own space ambitions to send the first Asian to the Moon. China, Japan, South Korea, and India all have plans to send a manned spacecraft to the Moon; the earliest schedules (China and Japan) would have the first manned lunar spaceflight in the 2020s, around the same time as the American Constellation program would return an American to the moon.fact|date=September 2008

Asian space agencies

* CNSA - China National Space Administration
* ISRO - Indian Space Research Organisation
* JAXA - Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
* KARI - Korea Aerospace Research Institute
* ISA - Iranian Space Agency

ee also

* Space Race


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