Comparison of Asian national space programs
Several Asian countries have space programs and are actively competing to achieve scientific and technological advancements in space, a situation sometimes referred to as the Asian space race in the popular media as a reference to the earlier Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Like the previous space race, issues involved in the current push to space include national security, which has spurred many countries to send artificial satellites as well as humans into Earth orbit and beyond. A number of Asian countries are seen as contenders in the ongoing race to be the pre-eminent power in space.
- 1 Asian space powers
- 2 Other minor players
- 3 Timeline of national firsts
- 4 Comparison of key technologies
- 5 Orbital Launch Frequency
- 6 Solar System exploration
- 7 Asian space agencies and programs
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes and references
- 10 External links
Asian space powers
India expects to demonstrate independent human spaceflight by 2015, and Iran and Japan have plans for independent manned spaceflights around 2020.
While the achievements of space programs run by the main Asian space players (China, India, and Japan) pale in comparison to the milestones set by the former Soviet Union and the United States, some experts believe Asia may soon lead the world in space exploration. China has been the leader of Asia's space race since the beginning of the 21st century. The first Chinese manned spaceflight, in 2003, marked the beginning of a space race in the region. At the same time, the existence of a space race in Asia is still debated. China, for example, denies that there is an Asian space race. In January 2007 China became the first Asian military-space power to send an anti-satellite missile into orbit, to destroy an aging Chinese Feng Yun 1C weather satellite in polar orbit. The resulting explosion sent a wave of debris hurtling through space at more than 6 miles per second. A month later, Japan's space agency launched an experimental communications satellite designed to enable super high-speed data transmission in remote areas.
After successful achievement of geostationary technology, India's ISRO launched its first Moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, which discovered ice water on the Moon, India launched on 5 November 2013 its maiden interplanetary mission, the Mars Orbiter Mission. The primary objective is to determine Mars' atmospheric composition and attempt to detect methane. The spacecraft completed its journey on 24 September, 2014 when it entered its intended orbit around Mars, making India the first Asian country to successfully place a Mars orbiter and the only country in history to do so in the first attempt. India became the fourth space agency in the world to send a spacecraft to Mars.
In addition to increasing national pride, countries are commercially motivated to operate in space. Commercial satellites are launched for communications, weather forecasting, and atmospheric research. 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% of space-related economic activity coming from commercial goods and services. China and India propose the initiation of a commercial launch service.
China has a space program with an independent human spaceflight capability. It has developed a sizable family of successful Long March rockets. It has launched two lunar orbiters, Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2. On 2 December 2013 China launched a modified Long March 3B rocket, China's Chang'e 3 Moon lander and its rover Yutu toward the Moon. It also has plans to land a rover on the Moon to retrieve samples. In 2011, China embarked on a program to establish a manned space station, starting with the launch of Tiangong 1. China attempted to send a Mars orbiter (Yinghuo-1) in 2011 on a joint mission with Russia, which failed to leave Earth orbit. China has collaborative projects with Russia, ESA, and Brazil, and has launched commercial satellites for other countries. Some analysts suggest that the Chinese space program is linked to the nation's efforts at developing advanced military technology.
China's advanced technology is the result of the integration of various related technological experiences. Early Chinese satellites, such as the FSW series, have undergone many atmospheric reentry tests. In the 1990s China had commercial launches, resulting in more launch experiences and a high success rate after the 1990s. China has aimed to undertake scientific development in fields like Solar System exploration. China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft successfully performed an EVA in September 2008. China's Shenzhou 9 spacecraft successfully performed a manned docking in June 2012. Furthermore, China's Chang'e 2 explorer became the first object to reach Sun-Earth Langrangian point in August 2011. On 13 December 2012, Chang'e 2 flew by asteroid 4179 Toutatis successfully, becoming the first probe to orbit the Moon, orbit the Lissajous orbit at Sun-Earth Langrangian point and fly by an asteroid at the closest distance of 3.2 km .
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. Japan is 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. Japan started to construct spy satellites after North Korea test fired a Taepodong missile over Japan in 1998. The North Korean government claimed the missile was merely launching a satellite to space, and accused 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. Japan has not yet developed its own manned spacecraft and does not have a program in place to develop one. The Japanese space shuttle HOPE-X, to be launched by the conventional space launcher H-II, was developed but the program was postponed and eventually cancelled. Then the simpler manned capsule Fuji was proposed but not adopted. Pioneer projects of single-stage to orbit, reusable launch vehicle horizontal takeoff and landing ASSTS and vertical takeoff and landing Kankoh-maru were developed but have not been adopted. A more conservative new (JAXA manned spacecraft) project is proposed to launch by 2025 as part of the Japanese plan to send manned missions to the Moon. Shin'ya Matsuura is doubtful about the Japanese manned Moon project, and suspects the project is a euphemism for participation in the American Constellation program. JAXA planned to send a humanoid robot (such as ASIMO) to the Moon.[when?]
India's interest in space travel began in the early 1960s, when scientists launched a small rocket above Kerala. Under Vikram Sarabhai, the program focused on the practical uses of space in increasing the standard of living. Remote sensing and communications satellites were placed into orbit. Just a few days after China said that it would send a human into orbit in the second half of 2003, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee publicly urged his country's scientists to work towards sending a man to the Moon. India now has its own space launch vehicles, has launched several satellites, sent its Chandrayaan-1 probe to the Moon in October 2008 and launched its Mars Orbiter Mission on November 5, 2013. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning its second Moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, for 2017. ISRO has demonstrated its re-entry technology and aims for a manned space mission after 2016.
India has gained significant expertise in space technologies and has successfully conducted many commercial launches. In 2008, India set a record by launching 10 satellites simultaneously. The mission of MIP, the first Asian probe designed for lunar impact was also completed in the same year. On 5 November 2013, India successfully launched the Mars Orbiter Mission, also informally called "Mangalyaan", which successfully entered into the orbit around Mars on 24 September, 2014. India is the first country in Asia and fourth in the world to perform a successful Mars mission, and the only one to do so on the first attempt. The mission was completed at a record cost of $74 million. Till date India has launched as many as 41 foreign satellites in about 27 launches (with 100% success rate) using its workhorse PSLV launch vehicles.
Other minor players
Iran has developed its own satellite launch vehicle, named the Safir SLV, based on the Shahab series of IRBMs. On 2 February 2009, Iranian state television reported that Iran's first domestically made satellite Omid (from the Persian امید, meaning "Hope") had been successfully launched into low Earth orbit by a version of Iran's Safir rocket, the Safir-2. The launch coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. Iran is also developing a new launch vehicle Simorgh (rocket).
Israel became the tenth country in the world to build its own satellite and launch it with its own launcher on 19 September 1988. Israel launched its first satellite, Ofeq-1, using an Israeli-built Shavit three-stage launch vehicle. The launching was the high point of a process that began in 1983 with the establishment of the Israel Space Agency under the aegis of the Ministry of Science. Space research by university-based scientists began in the 1960s, providing a ready-made pool of experts for Israel's foray into space. Since then, local universities, research institutes, and private industry, backed by the Israel Space Agency, have made progress in space technology. The agency's role is to support "private and academic space projects, coordinate their efforts, initiate and develop international relations and projects, head integrative projects involving different bodies, and create public awareness for the importance of space development."
North Korea has many years of experience with rocket technology, which it has passed along to Pakistan and other countries. On December 12, 2012, North Korea placed its first satellite in orbit with the launch of Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2. On 12 March 2009 North Korea signed the Outer Space Treaty and the Registration Convention, after a previous declaration of preparations for the launch of Kwangmyongsong-2. North Korea twice announced satellite launches: Kwangmyŏngsŏng-1 on 31 August 1998 and Kwangmyŏngsŏng-2 on 5 April 2009. Neither of these claims were confirmed by the rest of the world, but the United States and South Korea believe there were tests of military ballistic missiles. The North Korean space agency is the Korean Committee of Space Technology, which operates the Musudan-ri and Tongch'ang-dong Space Launch Center rocket launching sites and has developed the Baekdusan-1 and Unha (Baekdusan-2) space launchers and Kwangmyŏngsŏng satellites. In 2009 North Korea announced several future space projects, including manned space flights and the development of a manned partially reusable launch vehicle.
South Korea is a newer player in the Asian space race. In August 2006 South Korea launched its first military communications satellite, the Mugunghwa-5. The satellite was placed in geosynchronous orbit and collects surveillance information about North Korea. The South Korean government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in space technology and was due to launch its first space launcher, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle, in 2008.[dated info] South Korea's government justifies the cost for reasons of long-term commercial benefits and national pride. South Korea 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 in entering the Asian space race. They are completing the construction of Naro Space Center. Once it is operational,[when?] South Korea will be able to build satellites and missiles with local technology. South Korea is pursuing a space program that could defend the peninsula while lessening their dependency on the United States.
Other nations and regions
Indonesia was one of the first Asian countries to operate their own communication satellites purchased abroad, and intends to join the Asian space powers by developing and using their own small space launch vehicle Pengorbitan (RPS-420) in 2012–2014.[dated info]
Other space players are Malaysia and Turkey, that announced multi-task space programs in 2006 and 2007. They intend to develop their own satellites and launchers in the near future, and manned space facilities. As of 2012 Turkey was developing its own military satellite. The first Göktürk satellite is planned to be launched in 2013.[dated info] The Turkish satellite is planned to be capable of taking satellite images of greater than two meters per pixel resolution, thus making Turkey the second nation in the world capable of such a feat, after the United States.
Bangladesh's government has stressed that the country seeks an "entirely peaceful and commercial" role in space.
Timeline of national firsts
Also see the section: Comparison of key technologies
|– Indigenous manned missions||– Manned missions||– Lunar or Interplanetary missions||– Other missions|
|Date||Nation||Name||The firsts in Asia||World achievements|
|4 October 1957|| USSR
(now under Kazakhstan)
|Baikonur Cosmodrome||Satellite launch pad||The first satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched.|
|11 February 1970||Japan||Osumi||Satellite||The smallest satellite launch vehicle (L-4S; 9.4t weight, 1.4m diameter)|
|24 February 1975||Japan||Taiyo||Solar probe|
|26 October 1975||China||FSW-0||Satellite recovery|
|26 October 1975||China||FSW-0:
– 10m (1975)
– 4m (1992)
– 0.5m (till 2007)
|High resolution imaging satellite|
|8 July 1976||Indonesia||Palapa A1||Geosynchronous satellite (launched by NASA)|
|23 February 1977||Japan||N-I||Geosynchronous launch|
|21 February 1979||Japan||Hakucho||Space observatory|
|23 July 1980||Vietnam||Phạm Tuân||Asian in space (Soyuz 37)|
|20 September 1981||China||FB-1||Simultaneous satellite launch|
|8 January 1985||Japan||Sakigake||Leaving Earth orbit||The first interplanetary launch by solid rocket (M-3SII)|
|19 March 1990||Japan||Hagoromo||Reach lunar orbit (assumed)|
|7 April 1990||China||CZ-3||Commercial launch (AsiaSat 1)|
|10 April 1993||Japan||Hiten||Intentional lunar impact||The first aerobraking test|
|8 July 1994||Japan||Chiaki Mukai||Asian woman in space (STS-65)|
|19 November 1997||Japan||Takao Doi||Spacework (STS-87)|
|28 November 1997||Japan||ETS-VII||Rendezvous docking|
|3 July 1998||Japan||Nozomi||Martian mission (Failure)|
|30 October 2000||China||Beidou||Satellite navigation system|
|10 September 2002||Japan||Kodama||Data relay satellite (with ESA)|
|15 October 2003||China||Yang Liwei||First man in space launched by an Asian space program|
|15 October 2003||China||Shenzhou 5||Manned spacecraft|
|19 November 2005||Japan||Hayabusa||Soft-landed probe on extraterrestrial object||The first asteroid ascent|
|11 January 2007||China||FY-1C||ASAT test||Highest in history with altitude 865 km, also the fastest with speed 18k miles|
|23 February 2008||Japan||WINDS||Internet satellite||The fastest internet satellite|
|11 March 2008||Japan||Japanese Experiment Module||Manned foundations in space (STS-123, STS-124, STS-127)||The world’s largest pressurized volume in space|
|25 April 2008||China||Tianlian I||Indigenous Tracking & Data Relay Satellite System
First TDRS system to support manned missions
|27 September 2008||China||Zhai Zhigang (Shenzhou 7)||Indigenous EVA|
|27 September 2008||China||BanXing||Manned spacecraft-launched satellite|
|14 November 2008||India||Moon Impact Probe||Probe designed for Lunar impact||Discovered water on the Moon before impact.|
|23 January 2009||Japan||GOSAT||Greenhouse gas explorer|
|20 May 2010||Japan||Akatsuki||Venus mission (Failure)|
|21 May 2010||Japan||IKAROS||Solar sail||The first spacecraft to successfully demonstrate solar-sail technology in interplanetary space|
|25 August 2011||China||Chang'e 2||Lunar probe with extended deep space missions (asteroid mission to 4179 Toutatis).||The first probe to reach Sun-Earth Lagrangian point from the lunar orbit and from there directly to an asteroid. Closest flyby of an asteroid at a distance of only 3.2 km.|
|29 September 2011||China||Tiangong-1||Space station|
|18 June 2012||China||Shenzhou 9||First manned space docking (with Tiangong-1)|
|14 December 2013||China||Chang'e 3/Yutu||First lunar soft landing and lunar rover.|
|24 September 2014||India||Mars Orbiter Mission||First successful Mars mission by an Asian country||First Martian mission by an individual country to succeed on the first attempt.|
- Most numerical multiple-satellite payload transfer capability – India (PSLV, 10 satellites in one launch)
- First Asian country to collaborate on the International Space Station – Japan
|First success||LEO||GTO / GEO||Notes|
|11 Feb 1970||L-4S (26 kg)||First launch was 1966 (failed 4 times).|
|24 Apr 1970||CZ-1 (0.3 t)||First launch failed in 1969.|
|26 Jul 1975||FB-1 (2.5 t)||Suborbital flight was performed in 1972.
CZ-2A (LEO 2t) failed in 1974.
|16 Jul 1990||CZ-2E (LEO 9.2 t / GTO 3.5 t)|
|20 Aug 1997||CZ-3B (LEO 12 t / GTO 5.2 t)|
|18 Dec 2006||H-IIA204 (LEO 15 t / GTO 5.8 t)|
|10 Sep 2009||H-IIB (LEO 19 t / GTO 8 t)|
|planned (2015)||CZ-5 (LEO 25 t / GTO 14 t)|
Comparison of key technologies
First achieved attempts (or future plans) of each country are listed by chronological order unless otherwise noted.
- China – 2003 – Shenzhou
- Japan – 2020 – JAXA manned HTV now, Fuji was
- India - 2018+ – ISRO Orbital Vehicle
- Iran – 2021 – ISA manned spacecraft
- Space shuttle programs
- Including shuttle-shaped hypersonic reentry vehicles reach to space.
- Japan – 1996 – HYFLEX under HOPE-X program
- India – 2020 – AVATAR RLV (approved by ISRO)
- China – ? – Shenlong, Project 921-3
- Orbiters to the Moon
- Japan – 1990 – Hiten/Hagoromo； 2007 - SELENE
- China – 2007 – Chang'e 1； 2010 - Chang'e 2
- India – 2008 – Chandrayaan-1
- Orbiters to Mars
- Japan – 1998 – Nozomi (failed)
- China – 2011 – Yinghuo-1 (failed)
- India – 2013 – Mangalyaan(success)
- Orbiter to Venus
- Asteroid explorations---
- Intentional Moon landings
- Japan – 1993 – Hiten (controlled impact at end of its mission)
- India – 2008 – MIP (Moon impactor)
- China – 2009 – Chang'e 1 (controlled impact at end of its mission)
- Lunar rover programs
- Multi-satellite simultaneous launches (by number)
- India – 10 Satellites (PSLV-CA C9, 2008)
- Japan – 8 Satellites (H-IIA F15, 2009)
- People's Republic of China – 4 Satellites (Long March 2D F19, 2013)
- The heaviest satellite launch vehicle in each country (in active, by capacity)
- Japan – H-IIB – LEO 19t / GTO 8t (2009 – active)
- China – CZ-3B/E – LEO 12t / GTO 5.5t (1996 – active)
- India – GSLV (2001 – active)
- Iran – Safir-1B – LEO 52 kg (2008 – active)
- Continuous satellite launch success (by number)
- Israel – Shavit – 3 times for 8 years (1988–1995)
- Iran – Safir-1B – 4 times for 6 years (2009–2015)
- Capability of Launch Vehicle (Payload to GTO)
- Japan - H-IIB - Payload to GTO: 8,000 kg
- India - GSLV - Payload to GTO: 2,500 kg
- Capability of Launch Vehicle (Payload to LEO)
- Japan - H-IIB - Payload to LEO: 19,000 kg
- China - Long March 3B - Payload to LEO: 12,000 kg
- India - GSLV - Payload to LEO: 5,000 kg
- Iran - Safir-1B - Payload to LEO: 60 kg
- India - 2012 - CE-7.5, Isp (Vac.)：454s, Thrust (Vac.)：73 kN；Under Development - CE-20, Isp (Vac.)：443s, Thrust (Vac.)：200 kN
- India - S-139, Burn time 100s, Isp (Vac.)：166s, Thrust (Vac.)：4,700 kN.
- Japan - SRB-A, Burn time 100s, Isp (Vac.)：280s, Thrust (Vac.)：2,260 kN.
- Israel - Shavit's First Stage, Burn time 82s, Isp (Vac.)：280s, Thrust (Vac.)：1650.2 kN.
- Optical satellite imagery (by resolution)
- Japan - 2013 - Optical 5V - Highest available resolution：0.4 meter
- Israel - 2010 - Ofeq 9 - Highest available resolution：0.5 meter
- South Korea - 2012 - KOMPSAT-3 - Highest available resolution：0.7 meter
- India - 2007 - Cartosat 2 - Highest available resolution：0.8 meter
- China - 2012 - ZY-3 - Highest available resolution：2.1 meters
- Iran - 2011 - Rasad-1 - Highest available resolution：150 meters
- Radar satellite imagery (by resolution)
- Japan - 2013 - Radar 4 Highest available resolution：less than 1 meter
- Israel - 2008 - TechSAR 1 Highest available resolution：1 meter
- South Korea - 2013 - KOMPSat 5 Highest available resolution：1 meter
- India - 2012 - RISAT 1 Highest available resolution：1 meter
- China - 2012 - HJ-1C Highest available resolution：5 meters
- Communications satellite technology
- India - 2005 - INSAT-4A 3,460 kg, 24 transponders, Solar Array provide a power of 5.9 kW.
- China - 2011 - NIGCOMSAT 1R 5,150 kg, 28 transponders, Solar Array provide a power of 10.5 kW.
- Japan - 2011 - ST-2 5,090 kg, 51 transporters
- Resupply spacecraft
- Solar Sail spacecraft
- Spacecraft powered by plasma thrusters
- Japan - 2003 - Hayabusa
- India - 2010 - GSAT-4 (Launch failure)
- China - 2012 - Shijian 9
|Nation||Multi-satellite simultaneous launches||Launch of foreign satellite||Geostationary launches||Atmos-
|Rendezvous dockings in orbit||Satellite navigation system||Data relay satellites||Martian missions||Solar Space Missions||Space observatories|
Dong Fang Hong 02
Solar Space Telescope
Space Hard X-Ray Modulation Telescope
? : Date is assumed
Only projects with under-development or above status have been listed
Orbital Launch Frequency
Solar System exploration
Solar System exploration and manned spaceflights are major space technologies in the public eye. Since Sakigake, the first interplanetary probe in Asia, was launched in 1985, Japan has completed the most planetary exploration, but other nations are catching up.
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. All three main Asian space powers plan to send men to the Moon in the distant future and have already sent lunar probes.
Probing the Moon
Japan was 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 24 January 1990. In many ways, the mission did not go as was planned. Kaguya, the second Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft, was launched on 14 September 2007.
China launched its first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, on 24 October 2007 and successfully entered lunar orbit on 5 November 2007.
India launched its first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, on 22 October 2008 and successfully entered its final lunar orbit on 2 November 2008. The mission was considered a major success and the probe detected water on the lunar surface.
The first confirmed Moon landing from Asia was Hiten's mission in 1993. An intentional hard landing at the end of the mission, some pictures of the lunar surface were taken before impact. Hiten was not designed as a Moon lander and had few scientific instruments for lunar exploration. The next Japanese Moon landing program was the LUNAR-A, developed from 1992. Although the LUNAR-A orbiter was cancelled, its penetrators are integrated into the Russian Luna-Glob program, which was scheduled to launch in 2011. The penetrators are "relatively" hard landers, but they are not expected to be destroyed at impact.
The first Asian probe that was part of a lunar landing program was the Indian Moon Impact Probe (MIP) released from Chandrayaan-1 in 2008. MIP was a hard lander and was designed to move the ground under for research purposes. MIP was designed to be destroyed at impact. Its instruments performed lunar observations to within 25 minutes before impact. The landing test will be applied to future soft landings such as Chandrayaan-2, planned for 2016.
The Chinese Chang'e-1 spacecraft also achieved a systematic hard landing at the end of its mission in 2009, when China became the sixth country to reach the lunar surface. One purpose of the lander was to pre-test for future soft landings. A Chinese lunar soft lander is achieved with the Chang'e-3 mission.
Exploration of the major planets
Japanese interplanetary probes have been limited to Small Solar System bodies such as comets and asteroids. JAXA's Nozomi probe was launched in 1998, but contact was lost with the probe due to electrical failures before visiting the planet Mars. The second Japanese probe for the planet Venus, Akatsuki, was launched in 2010 but has failed as for now.
Chinese scientists expect that China will take 20 years to launch independent planetary probes. The Chinese manned Mars exploration program is planned for around 2050 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
India has successfully launched Mars Orbiter Mission on November 5, 2013. It reached Mars on September 2014. India has become the only country to successfully insert a satellite into Martian orbit in its maiden attempt; it also became the first Asian country to achieve this feat.
Asian space agencies and programs
- Bangladesh – Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization (SPARRSO)
- People's Republic of China – China National Space Administration (CNSA) (Chinese space program)
- India – Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
- Indonesia – National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN)
- Iran – Iranian Space Agency (ISA)
- Israel – Israeli Space Agency (ISA)
- Japan – Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
- Malaysia – Malaysian National Space Agency (MNSA)
- North Korea – Korean Committee of Space Technology (KCST)
- Pakistan – Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO)
- Philippines – Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)
- South Korea – Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI)
- Republic of China – National Space Organization (NSPO)
- Thailand – Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA)
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