China, India Announce Visions for Space Programs, Mars Mission

Were the U.S. to proceed with a bold plan for our space program, carrying out follow-up missions to Curiosity for which plans already exist, we would find willing international collaborators, also eager to venture into space and to Mars. This is incompatible with the Obama plan of promising to support such activity and slashing the required budget and provoking thermonuclear war with nations who could be our collaborators. Recently, India and China have made their own intentions clear.

On Friday, a senior Chinese astronomer revealed a timeline for China's planned program of space research. In an interview with Xinhua, Zhang Shuangnan, an astrophysicist at the Institute of High Energy Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said key developments will include China launching its first space telescope around 2015 and the country's space station being completed around 2020.

Speaking at the sidelines of the 28th General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union, being held in Beijing from Aug. 20-31, he said the space station will become a platform to study black holes, dark matter and dark energy.

Under a national plan, China plans to launch the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT), the country's first astronomy satellite, around 2015. Already 20 years in development, it will observe black holes, neutron stars and other phenomena based on their X-ray and gamma ray emissions, according to Zhang, the HXMT project's leader. Astronomical experiments that have been approved to be part of the payloads of the space station include the Cosmic Lighthouse Program to study basic scientific questions such as the origin of the universe and stars, according to Zhang. Also among the plans is the Portraits of Astrophysical Objects Program, intended to obtain pictures of extrasolar galaxies such as black holes, by using Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) -- observations based on the use of multiple telescopes. "It's a pity that as a country mastering space technologies, China has not launched any astronomy satellites yet," Zhang said, adding that its only astronomical experiment conducted in space was one testing gamma rays in the Shenzhou-2 spacecraft launched in 2001.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently announced that India will send a spaceship to Mars to collect important scientific information.

Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the 66th Independence Day, Singh said the mission to Mars would mark a huge step for the country in science and technology. "Recently, the Cabinet has approved the Mars Orbiter Mission. Under this mission, our spaceship will go near Mars and collect important scientific information," he said. "This spaceship to Mars will be a huge step for us in the area of science and technology." Singh congratulated scientists and technologists who have enhanced the prestige of the country by successfully testing the Agni V Missile and launching the RISAT-I Satellite in space this year. India will be the sixth country to launch a mission to Mars, after the U.S., Russia, Europe, Japan and China.

As has been made clear recently with the landing and initial forays of Curiosity, the success of such missions is currently best ensured by the participation of the United States, having always played a crucial role in effective space missions. The potential future of man working together to manage and colonize space is in serious jeopardy under the reign of Obama.

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