Tag: The Moon

We Are in a Space Race That America Needs to Win

Article by Richard M. Harrison and Peter Garretson                          July 10. 2020                          (newsweek.com)

• The Trump administration views space as a new arena of strategic competition. The Pentagon’s recently released ‘Defense Space Strategy’ defines the space domain as “vital to our nation’s security, prosperity and scientific achievement.” Today, the space market is estimated to be $350 billion. But the US Department of Commerce says that current projections put the global space economy at $1 trillion by 2030 and $3 trillion by 2040.

• Meanwhile, American private sector space firms have reduced launch costs, making the positioning of technologies in space more feasible and affordable than ever before. New technological breakthroughs have made activities like mining asteroids achievable within a decade. But this future space economy depends on investment, which depends on security, which depends on a committed US military presence in space. The US Space Force must be capable of defending American interests against both global adversaries who would disrupt US space architecture, as well as natural threats such as asteroids and comets.

• Undoubtedly, the biggest danger is the People’s Republic of China. Beijing recognizes the value of the space domain, and is now trying in earnest to utilize space to achieve its great power ambitions. In April 2019, Dr. Namrata Goswami told the U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission that China had plans to become the world’s leading space power by 2045. To this end, China has already landed on the far side of the Moon and created a lunar biosphere simulation, housing inhabitants within its closed ecosystem for a year. China is developing techniques for asteroid mining, and has developed nuclear-powered shuttles for space exploration and for the industrialization of the Moon. It plans to fabricate satellites that can harness energy in space to become the world’s top supplier of non-carbon producing energy.

• More specifically, China plans to create space-based commercial and industrial facilities and transportation by 2021; space-based power generation by 2030; lunar mining by 2030; and asteroid mining by 2032. China could also gain advantages in areas such as artificial intelligence and cyber-related technologies, thereby increasing its war-fighting capabilities and telecommunications

• The strategic role in space to which Beijing aspires is potentially threatening to the United States, both economically and militarily. The United States will need a concrete plan to go on the strategic offensive to prevail as the planet’s dominant space power.

 

The Trump administration is getting serious about space. Although they have been mocked by critics ignorant of their importance, steps like the administration’s commissioning of the U.S. Space Force, its establishment of a dedicated Space Command and the creation of a dedicated space technology development arm are all signs that the White House is beginning to view space as a new arena of strategic competition. The latest sign in this regard came last month, when the Pentagon formally released its Defense Space Strategy, which defines the space domain as “vital to our nation’s security, prosperity and scientific achievement.”

       Dr. Namrata Goswami

This bold statement reflects a potentially transformative reality: that space is still a largely untapped resource. Today, the current space market is estimated to be $350 billion, but in three decades, it could be worth exponentially more. By the middle of the 21st century, both Bank of America and Merrill Lynch estimate, the space economy will be worth roughly $2.7 trillion.

American policymakers are eager to tap into that potential wealth. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross gave a speech earlier this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos in which he noted that, “Current industry projections place the 2040 global space economy at between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. And I think we will certainly get to a trillion before 2030.” He specifically mentioned America’s near-term priorities in this domain to include lunar mining, asteroid mining and space tourism.

Industry, meanwhile, is already moving in this direction. American private sector space firms have reduced launch costs, making the positioning of technologies in space more feasible and affordable than ever before. Meanwhile, new technological breakthroughs have made activities like mining asteroids achievable within a decade.

But all of that hinges upon investor confidence, and that in turn requires security. For the space economy to expand to its full potential, tech firms and investors alike need to know that their stakes will be safeguarded by a U.S. government that is serious about space. Increasingly, American national security, and our growing list of space-based economic assets, requires a committed military presence with the capability to defend against dangerous naturally occurring phenomena (including asteroids and comets), as well as potential adversaries who are actively developing the means to disrupt, degrade and destroy vital components of the emerging U.S. space architecture.

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Artwork by Dave Simonds for The Economist

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Japan Aims to Put Man on the Moon, Collaborate With US

July 2, 2020                              (wionews.com)
• The Japanese government announced the country’s 10-year ‘Basic Plan on Space Policy’. Japan aims to double its space industry budget from $11 billion to $22 billion by the early 2030s, and work with the United States to track missiles and use intelligence-gathering satellites during natural disasters.

• One of the key components of the plan is to put a Japanese man on the Moon by 2024, while working with NASA. Japan plans to utilize its resources to strengthen its space policy through the ‘whole-of-government’ approach, while promoting public-private collaborations.

• Japan recently inaugurated the first ‘Space Operations Squadron’ at Fuchu Air Base in Tokyo as an “Air Self-Defense Force”, which will become fully operational by 2023. The squadron will work with the US Space Command to protect the country’s satellites from damage, including armed attacks according to the ‘Basic Space Law’.

• Japan already operates the ‘Quasi-Zenith Satellite System’ to enhance the US’s Global Positioning System in the Asia-Oceania regions. Japan plans to launch a new GPS navigation system of its own in 2023 with 7 satellites. It is concerned over China’s capability to jam or attack satellites with other neighboring countries North Korea and Russia capable of upsetting the regional balance in arms technology.

• In January 2019, China became the first nation to land a rover on the dark side of the lunar surface. This month, China plans to launch a mission to remote-controlled robot on the surface of Mars. The US has already sent four exploratory vehicles to Mars, and intends to launch a fifth this summer which should arrive around February 2021.

• China recently completed its own GPS-type geolocation system which it began in the early 1990s. 120 countries including Pakistan and Thailand are using the Chinese GPS system for port traffic monitoring, to guide rescue operations during disasters and other services, according to Chinese state media.

• When Donald Trump announced the creation of the new Space Force in December, Russia accused the US of seeing space as a place to wage war. In return, the US accused China and Russia of developing tools for jamming and cyberattacks that directly threaten US satellites.

• The Pentagon has stressed that it intends to maintain superiority in space to protect its GPS satellites. In the midst of an escalating space war, the US and Japan have strengthened their “space relations” to build their joint space network and strengthen their satellite force over the next 10 years.

 

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Japanese government for the first time in five years updated its Basic Plan on Space Policy while outlining the country’s 10-year basic space policy. It will work with the United States to not only track missiles but use intelligence-gathering satellites during natural disasters.

Japan’s President, Shinzo Abe, and US President Donald Trump

Japan aims to double its space industry by the early 2030s, which currently stands at $11 billion.

One of the key components of the plan is to put a Japanese man on the Moon by 2024 while working with NASA scientists.

Experts say Japan’s space policy is being led as a reaction to China’s 2013 Jade Rabbit lunar rover mission.

Public-private collaboration

“The Government of Japan, recognizing such huge potential of outer space and the severe situation that it is facing, hereby decides a basic plan on space policy for coming ten years with the view of the next two decades, and will secure sufficient budgetary allotments and other necessary resources, and effectively and efficiently utilize these resources to strengthen its space policy through the whole-of-government- approach, while promoting public-private collaborations,” the Japanse government said in a statement.

Air Self-Defense Force

Japan recently inaugurated the first Space Operations Squadron in Tokyo at Fuchu Air Base as an “Air Self-Defense Force” which will become fully operational by 2023.

It is meant to protect the country’s satellite from damage, including armed attacks while working with the US Space Command.

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China’s New Crew Capsule Just Landed, Along With Parts of Their New Rocket

Article by Matt Williams                             May 15, 2020                             (universetoday.com)

• Two milestones have brought China closer to becoming a full-fledged superpower in space. One was the successful return on May 8th of a next-generation crewed spacecraft that launched into low earth orbit on May 5th and spent 67 hours in space. The other was the launch of China’s new Long March 5B (CZ-5B) heavy-lift rocket carrying a target payload for the first time. The heavy-lift rocket took the new spacecraft into orbit, although the spacecraft was unmanned for this test mission.

• The purpose of the spacecraft mission was to test its deep space capabilities since it will be carrying Chinese astronauts, or “taikonauts”, to the Moon and beyond in the coming years. The spacecraft reached a maximum distance of 4,970 miles from earth. The spacecraft deployed its three parachutes to slow down during its descent back to earth and airbags were deployed to cushion the landing. The previous Shenzhou spacecraft relied on only one parachute and had no airbags. Once it returns to Earth, crews will refurbish the new spacecraft by replacing the ‘foldable’ heat shield and removing any additional scoring from the hull.

• The purpose of the heavy-lift rocket mission was to test its payload ability, as it will be used to bring materiel to build a space station orbiting the Moon. The Chinese wanted to make sure that the heavy-lift rocket could handle a 22 US ton payload because they intend to eventually carry into orbit the components needed to construct the Tiangong-3 Modular Space Station. The uncrewed spacecraft and 22,000 lbs of fuel propellant brought its launch mass to 23.8 US tons.

• The rocket and spacecraft were launched from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center – located on Hainan Island in the South China Sea. Upon reaching orbit, the booster and spacecraft separated. The spacecraft brought along a composite materials 3D printing system, a time-triggered Ethernet system, and a range of seeds intended to test the effects of microgravity and radiation from the Van Allen belts on the growth of plants, which is essential to any plan to build space stations and habitats in orbit. On its return, the spacecraft touched down at the Dongfeng landing area in China’s northeastern Jilin province.

• On May 11th, a spent rocket stage of the Long March 5B re-entered Earth’s atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean. The booster landed safely in the ocean off the west coast of Africa. Some pieces of the rocket landed on an African village, however. If it had re-entered earth’s atmosphere fifteen minutes earlier, the debris would have landed on New York City. No injuries were reported.

• This latest mission has sent a clear message to the global astronomical community that China will be expanding its presence in ‘low earth orbit’ in the coming years. In this decade, China will have the capability to send taikonauts to the Moon, followed by the creation of a permanent lunar base in the next decade, and maybe crewed missions to Mars.

 

China’s next-generation crewed spacecraft, which will replace the venerable Shenzou spacecraft in the coming years, recently returned to Earth after spending almost three days in space. The purpose of this mission was to test the deep space capabilities of the spacecraft that will be sending Chinese astronauts (taikonauts) to orbit, to the Moon, and beyond in the coming years.

                  Chinese ‘taikonauts’

In addition, this mission also saw China’s new Long March 5B (CZ-5B) heavy-lift rocket launch a payload to space for the first time. This rocket is the latest installment in the Long March family and will be vital to the creation of the third and largest Chinese space station. These two milestones have brought China a step closer to becoming a full-fledged superpower in space.

The uncrewed spacecraft and Long March 5B launched on their maiden voyage together in the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 5th, from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center – located on Hainan Island in the South China Sea. Once they reached orbit, the booster and spacecraft separated, and the second part of the mission commenced (i.e. the validation of the crewed spacecraft prototype).

Over the course of the next 67 hours, the spacecraft performed seven orbit-raising maneuvers and reached a maximum distance (apogee) of around 8,000 km (4,970 mi) from Earth’s surface. This is similar to what was done during Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) with the Orion spacecraft back in 2014 – though that mission lasted only 4 hours and completed 2 orbits.

By Friday, May 8th, at 01:21 AM EST (10:21 PM, May 7th, PST) the spacecraft completed its deorbit burn, which was followed by the separation of the service and crew modules about twelve minutes later. The new spacecraft deployed its three parachutes to slow down during descent and airbags were deployed from the underside to cushion the landing.

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