International Space: Space Race or Federation

Fifty years later and it is amazing how many still long for another space race. The logic goes something like this, “If we had another Space Race then the public and therefore congress would fully fund American Space Exploration.” As you can imagine there are many strong opinions about the validity of that logic, but at the AAS 2007 national conference titled “Celebrating Fifty Years – But, What’s Next?” I recently heard two opinions that greatly resonated with me. The first was that the initial Space Race must be couched in the context of that time and the global context of today is very different. The second was from the collaborative, social networking culture of Generation Y and their desire to see a global effort to expand our presence in Space. As the speaker shared the Generation Y opinions of the future, what came to mind were the beginnings of “The Federation” for all of you Star Trek fans.

But not only is the context different today and the perspectives of the next Generation very different from 50 years ago, the International Space community is much more than just two super powers. In the World Prospects for Government Space Markets Report available from Euroconsult, an in-depth analysis on government civil and military space is captured for the 35 leading countries and organizations, along with insights into the 48 emerging national programs. The first time I saw the below chart I was surprised by some of the emerging programs. Although not shown here, the report also highlights Mexico’s plans to create a Mexican Space Agency, or AEXA, for short.

Yes, all of these nations are not involved in the Human Exploration of Space but the number is greater than 2 and growing. Secondly this chart makes the point that space competencies are being found in an ever expanding global community. This growth is being fueled not just by national pride but also by a growing realization that innovation leads to national wealth and attracts more business. For some great insight into this, I would recommend Innovation Nation by John Kao. (More on Innovation in a future blog.) Or for a shorter read, look at the Road map drafted between Russia and the European Union that highlights space as an area of focus for economic growth, Road Map For The Common Economic Space – Building Blocks For Sustained Economic Growth. OK, so what about Space Exploration? I think that JAXA captures it best in their video presentation of their JAXA Vision – JAXA 2025. In the video it shows a moon populated with bases from multiple nations. Currently Russia, (Russia to send manned mission to the Moon by 2025), China (China Plans to Land on Moon By 2024), India, (Indian scientists support human space mission) and Japan are planning human missions to the moon. When those countries arrive they will find other vehicles in the space around the moon and on the lunar surface. Last year “British space scientists said they plan to undertake the country’s first mission to the moon by the end of the decade. Germany also plans an unmanned flight to the moon by 2013. Beside Germany and UK, China, Japan, India and Italy have similar plans.” (see Russia Plans To Go On the Moon). So with all of these countries heading out beyond Low Earth Orbit can you truly call it a race? Or will the better measure of success be who has the greatest staying power? Which nation, once they land on the lunar surface, will establish a lasting presence on the moon? Or better yet, who will partner with whom to reach to the moon and beyond?

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the future of space exploration is the partnerships that are being created for this “New Space Age”. Russia is partnering with ESA to create the Clipper Spacecraft. Russia and India are joining in a moon mission and China is partnering with Nigeria and Venezuela. Earlier this year it was announced that NASA and India have signed an agreement for future cooperation. Yet, more intriguing than the new collaborations is who isn’t included in the team. The original 2 space faring nations are not always included in the teaming arrangements.

Adding this to the changing environment in commercial space that I shared last time makes me believe that the next 20 years will be quite different from the past 50. It offers a great deal of opportunity for NASA and a challenge. The opportunity lies in the potential partnerships that we can leverage and the growing expertise that we can tap into globally. The challenge is to decide if this future environment will necessitate a new or more focused role for JSC and the other NASA centers. Therefore, the question I leave for you this week is whether our role (or if you prefer, the unique value we offer) should change in the future and if so what should it be?

Sharing the Vision –
Steven Gonzalez, Deputy, Advanced Planning Office

45 thoughts on “International Space: Space Race or Federation”

  1. I would say that depends on your money situation (space adventures will help you out for $40 million). I’m guessing that you are not rich though, or else you’d have known about that, I’m sure.

    By the time space is cheap enough for you or I to go, I doubt the ISS will still be in orbit and functioning. I’m 30…

  2. this is sivaram. i’m very intersted in the astronaut field.
    i dont have a proper guidence to a head in this field.
    i has been searching for the blocks to get the prior information.
    please kindly help me for furthur guidence

  3. The point is, we are building the Future of Space. Stop thinking in the short term and start thinking in 100 year increments. A Consortium of nations on the Moon is just the beginning. Let’s build the United Earth Space Agency. The US can have an important role but we are just one nation among many. Share the knowledge, the excitement, and the wealth, and get out there! Space belongs to no one and to all, so why should only a few nations have a moon base or travel to other planets? Let’s do it together as Humanity.

  4. To Boldly go where no man has gone before;these are the voyages of earths future astronauts.

  5. hello to u all

    good wishes to the warriors of science

    m an officer from rajiv gandhi national university of law, patiala, punjab, india.

    i would be thankful if you make me enlightened about the recent developments of international space station. i am keen to be equipped about it.
    kindly mail me some documents telling about its recent developments and research reports.

    i wil be highly obliged

    god bless you all

    regards
    jasleen kewlani (a sociologist by profession)

  6. India is slowly emerging a big power in space exploration their recent chandrayan mission was successfull and they are already planning for part 2 of this mission.
    Thanks
    Botha

  7. Thank you for information,Although so far as from me but I’m very interesting and try to go the one. I try to learning technology, robot and mechatronics (as I keep tracking in my blog http://mechacity.blogspot.com) and I hope NASA can save our life and our world from something out of the world. I love you NASA.

  8. India and U.S have spiritual bond with each other. Joining hands will boost benefits to both. Think of and also Intelligent India.

  9. Steven,

    I really don’t think its a wise idea to be collaborating with those countries specifically those that have other intentions than space exploration. I understand the principal of cute, warm and fuzzy partnerships. Secondly the private sector is in no way capable of producing a reliable craft. Shall we talk about the social and economic state of America’s private sector? Taking into consideration the funding cuts and the political crap NASA has had to deal with over the years to pull off programs, don’t you think its time to give them the opportunity to do what they do best? The only thing I have read in your article is you don’t want to commit and pay for it calling it the “New Space Age” instead. Enough with the excuses, its time to get off the pot.

  10. I agree there will always be a space race.
    Nations will always want to be on the top and to be considered as the leaders.
    That is in our nature…

  11. I for one would welcome another space race. Compared to the Apollo 11, 12, 13 era of my parent's generation, as far as popularity goes with the general public, recent exploration has been positively non-existent. We here more about stupid companies than we do about the universe at large.

  12. Well Nasa has done most research on Space then any other space agency in the world. They have the right to dominate in the space as well.

  13. Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I'm more of a visual learner,I found that to be more helpful well let me know how it turns out! I love what you guys are always up too. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the great works guys I've added you guys to my blogroll. This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information.. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post.

  14. That is a good news that NASA and India signed an agreement. I believe that India can be very helpful for designing new technologies.

  15. All big countries should be all united for better development of NASA. Just like what they did for the past years with Russia and other countries for developing the Space laboratory.

  16. India and U.S have spiritual bond with each other. Joining hands will boost benefits to both. Think of Spiritual India and also Intelligent India.

  17. Let us utilise the knowledge tht we have to explore the space. Joint program and agreement between other races is another innovative idea that will surely create impact in space technology and development.

  18. “The point is, we are building the Future of Space. Stop thinking in the short term and start thinking in 100 year increments. A Consortium of nations on the Moon is just the beginning. Let's build the United Earth Space Agency. The US can have an important role but we are just one nation among many. Share the knowledge, the excitement, and the wealth, and get out there! Space belongs to no one and to all, so why should only a few nations have a moon base or travel to other planets? Let's do it together as Humanity.”

    I totally agree!

  19. Interesting to see NASA Bloggers in this online world. Great blog i like it. Be looking forward to see more of your articles.

    Michael:
    _______________________
    &

  20. All of these nations are not involved in the Human Exploration of Space but the number is greater than two and it is still growing…
    Shirley
    &

  21. In the future nations want to involve in the Human Exploration of Space but NASA at that day will always be the center of these projects.

  22. I like this article simply because it tells us about what is happening today. Which i think is important because if u live in the world you should know what is going on in it. And when there is a subject as important and intreging to know about it makes me happy that there are things about it on todays present time.

  23. Steven you mentioned the mexican space agency, but for the NASA is really relevant that Mexico creates it?

    What are the joint plans for the future, or are they some?

    or is this just another good idea for my country that is going to end in nothing?

    what is the real perspective for us?

    do we have real chances of making something works?

    are you concern that Mexico can be related to countries like Russia, China or Ucrania??

  24. I have liked your thoughts, I am going to subscribe your blog and will come here again
    to know more. thanks,
    Your discussion is exactly the same i agree for . I will scribe your blog and will come back.

  25. NASA I feel that you are already far ahead of the world why not let other countries develop their space technology.Even if there is a similar kind of world war in space there will be a devastating victory of NASA or USA in space against Russia or Japan or China or Germany or India.it is going to be a crushing victory like the allied forces against germany like in the world war

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