What impact will the recent completion of China’s space station Tiangong (« heavenly palace ») have on the new space race?
Space exploration has been an arena of competition and speculation among the major powers. The Cold War saw a fierce space race between the United States and the Soviet Union in satellite launches, manned space flights, and lunar exploration.
In contrast, the International Space Station (ISS) was a collaboration project between the US, Japan, and European countries. It began construction in 1998 under the leadership of the US and became a shining symbol of international cooperation. Russia also joined the project after the Cold War ended.
Much has been achieved aboard the ISS. For instance, new drugs and medical care for the elderly have been developed by conducting experiments in an environment vastly different from that of the earth, including microgravity, high-intensity solar energy, and cosmic radiation.
Furthermore, various research led by participating countries has led to innovations to improve life in space and on earth. ISS operations are expected to be extended from the original 2024 to 2030.
The Symbolism of Space Exploration
Kazuto Suzuki, a professor of science and technology policy at the Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Tokyo shares his insight into national space policies. He explains, « Much of what happens in space exploration is about symbolic meaning. There won’t be any substantial changes even if ISS operations were to cease. »
Read the entire article on Japan Forward.