How astronauts travel in space

Travel to Space: Moon, Mars and the Military - Global Plans for Travel to Space

If the US plans to do it, the first woman should set foot on the moon in four years. Other countries also have big plans in space - not always with peaceful intentions.

A new rover on Mars, another spaceport completed, a mission to the distant sun - and perhaps a new space agency: the list of global space plans for 2020 is long.

In 2024, the US wants to send the first woman to the moon

The top priority for the US space agency Nasa has been set by the White House: by 2024 the next man and woman should land on the moon - and both should be Americans, as US Vice President Mike Pence announced. However, the schedule and budget of the "Artemis" program are tight. The rocket and transport capsule are still a long way from being operational.

A kind of space station will then be created on the moon and serve as the basis for a manned flight to Mars - but only in the distant future. In 2020 at least the next unmanned rover should fly to Mars. Current working title: "Mars 2020". The robot is based on the principle of the "Curiosity" rover, which was launched in 2012.

Russia spends billions on the spaceport

Moscow hopes that construction work on the Vostochny spaceport near the Chinese border will finally be completed next year. They drag on, even though the facility opened in 2016 - and rockets have already been launched there. Most recently, the Kremlin complained that billions of rubles had seeped into dark channels during the construction.

The most ambitious goal of the Russians in the next few years remains the flight to the moon. The first cosmonaut is scheduled to land there in 2031. Engineers are currently developing a heavy rocket that can also bring larger components to the earth's satellite.

At the same time, there are further flights to the International Space Station (ISS). The Russian space agency Roskosmos wants to hold on to the outpost for the time being. When it comes to manned flights there, Russia intends to work with more countries in the future, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia. In addition, other research projects are ongoing, for example on how nuclear power can be used in space for rocket propulsion or space debris can be disposed of high above the earth.

China sends its own rover to Mars

The second largest economic power on earth is pursuing an ambitious space program that also has Mars and the moon as targets. It was not until January that a Chinese probe touched the back of the earth's satellite for the first time. Another unmanned mission is to follow "Chang'e 4" in which rock samples will be brought back to earth. A Chinese should set foot on the earth's satellite for the first time by 2030 at the latest.

The first Chinese Mars mission is due to start in 2020. A rover is to set off on an eight-month journey to the Red Planet in the summer. The first module for China's new space station could also be launched. It should be smaller than the ISS, which weighs 240 tons. The 60 to 100 tonne "Tianhe 1" will consist of a core module and two experiment modules. Three astronauts should be able to live in it for a longer period of time, up to six if the crew changes. The station will be accompanied by a space telescope that can be docked for supply and maintenance.

Europe sends probe to the sun

For Europe, the focus is on the launch of the new Ariane 6 launcher in 2020. It is scheduled to take off on its maiden flight at the end of next year. Its predecessor, Ariane 5, has been in use for more than 20 years. In 2020, the "Solar Orbiter" solar probe of the European Space Agency (ESA) to research the sun is also due to start. The focus is on researching the solar wind. In this way, space weather could be better predicted. Strong solar wind can damage satellites.

There was good news for Esa at the Council of Ministers conference at the end of November: the 22 member countries increased the budget unexpectedly sharply - for the coming years to 14.4 billion euros. Among other things, the "Hera" mission for asteroid defense was approved. The aim is to calculate whether and how asteroids could be deflected so that they do not collide with the earth. The topic of earth observation will also continue to play a major role. Better measurements of CO2 emissions are planned, for example. Space travel should also contribute to knowledge on the subject of climate change. Esa is also involved in NASA's moon mission.

India's intensified space program

The Indian space program has become particularly ambitious under the nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He wants to show that his country is becoming more important internationally. The budget was increased this year by more than 15 percent to just under 1.6 billion euros. In 2020 there will be a mission to the sun, among other things. The country plans to send astronauts into space in 2021. A mission to Venus and its own space station are to follow later.

Some experts criticize the fact that the emerging country with its 1.3 billion inhabitants spends a lot of money on large space projects while many people still live in poverty. Others emphasize that the program is considered to be particularly cost-effective - among other things because of comparatively low labor costs. Many satellites from other countries are also launched into space from India.

Japan is stepping up cooperation with the USA

The high technology wants to participate in the NASA-led mission, which plans to build a space station in the orbit of the moon from the mid-2020s. Japan and the US recently agreed to step up their joint space activities with the aim of one day enabling humans to explore Mars.

Japan's space agency Jaxa is planning two nano satellites for the US lunar mission "Artemis". Japan also hopes that one day it will be able to send its own astronauts to the moon. With the largest car maker in the country, Toyota, Jaxa plans to develop a rover over the next few years that will be sent to the moon in 2029.

In addition, the third largest economy in the world is investing in the development of various satellites, which, among other things, will serve to research global climate change.

The Philippines does not have its own space agency - not yet. In August 2019, a law was passed in the Asian country that decided to create such an agency. The basics are currently being tinkered with. The agency is to bundle previous plans and technologies and strive for new space travel efforts. When it could start was initially unclear.

France plans military space command

As in other countries, a "space force" is a big issue for France - it should be properly upgraded in space. President Emmanuel Macron announced a military space command in the summer. Monitoring capacities in particular are to be expanded. One goal is therefore to better protect satellites from possible attacks - for example with special laser weapons. Investments are also to be made in nano-satellites for surveillance that patrol space.

France's advance is a first within Europe. The program should be operational by 2030. States such as the USA, Russia, China and India are also expanding their options for space wars.

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