Friday, September 11, 2009

Japan's New Space Freighter

Click HERE for the full story on the launch of Japan's new H-II Transfer vehicle from the BBC.

The space freighter, together with its Kaguya moon probe and its announcement of a project to develop solar power satellites, demonstrates what I hope to be a trend of Japan taking much more of an initiative in space. Last year, JAXA (the Japanese Aerospace eXploration Agency, the island nation's equivalent of NASA) announced much more ambitious agenda in the years to come. Beforehand, Japan as a space power was primarily a relatively safe but unimaginative satellite-launcher. Now it seems to be blossoming into much more, and may be on its way to becoming a major space power in a decade or two.

Go HERE for an interview with Keiji Tachikawa, president of JAXA, for more information on Japan's future space plans.


Rob A said...

I wonder when a space agency with the same international funding and staffing that CERN has, no single country can truly afford to make an effective space program, and politicians worry more about their image than the future of humanities space development, so they impede efforts of their opponents and demand reforms and reviews just to make each other look bad.

Paul Lucas said...

I think an international space commission organized like CERN would be a good idea, but I see a lot of hurdles to something like that happening. International cooperation with the ISS was by no means smooth, especially at the beginning. CERN functions well because its relatively small, concentrated in one place, and (mostly) stays out of the media limelight; space programs consume far too many resources and are too high-profile for politicians to easily cede control of it to an international body.

What might be more workable is to cretae an international commission that coordinates efforts between the world space programs, like maybe standardizing equipment and allowing some missions to compliment the others. NASA kind of unofficially does some of this to a degree, but there should be a more offciial agency (perhaps sponsored by the UN) that handles that.