Link - article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams

      Active Space Programs in Iran, Brazil, India, Japan, China, Israel...
        is it going to get crowded even without USA or Russia?

      Back in the early sixties, John F. Kennedy declared America’s intention of
      putting a man on the Moon, a dream that was fulfilled with the Apollo 11
      lunar landing in July 1969. The space race featured the USSR and the USA,
      vying to be the first each time mankind took another step forward in the
      exploration of space, following the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union
      in 1957. These days, lots of countries have active space programs and here
      at Dark Roasted Blend, we take a look at the other space race.

      (image credit:

      The European Space Agency or ESA was founded in 1975 and currently
      has eighteen member countries. ESA employs over 2,000 people and has an
      annual budget of over $5 billion US, dedicated to space exploration. ESA
      launches take place from the spaceport located close to the equator near
      Kourou in French Guiana in northern South America:

      (image via)

      The European space program makes use of the Ariane rocket family, which
      has undergone considerable changes over the years.


      The Ariane 1 rocket was used to launch satellites into orbit from
      1979 to 1986 (left image below). Ariane 2 and 3 were used between 1986 and
      1989 and the Ariane 4 from 1988 to 2003, with the current version, Ariane
      5, taking over in 1997. Here’s an Ariane 5 ECA launched on August 14, 2008
      (right image):

      (images via
        1, 2,

      The Giotto robotic spacecraft was launched by ESA in 1986 to study
      Halley’s Comet. The probe came within just under 600 kms of the comet’s
      nucleus, transmitting spectacular pictures back to Earth:


      The European space program also designed reusable space vehicles similar
      to the US Space Shuttle. Hermes was designed in France in the
      mid-seventies and began to be developed in the late eighties by ESA.
      Unfortunately, the project had to deal with a variety of issues that were
      never fully resolved. The project was cancelled in 1992, without any
      Hermes vehicles being constructed:


      Skylon is a reusable space plane currently being designed by a
      company in the UK:


      China has a very well developed space program and is only the third
      country after the USA and the former USSR to successfully launch humans
      into space. China’s first manned space mission, Shenzou 5, was launched in
      October 2003.


      China’s main Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre is located in the Gobi
      Desert in Inner Mongolia:

      (images via

      Shenzou 7, China’s third manned space mission, was launched in
      September 2008. This is an artist’s impression of the Shenzou 7 spacecraft
      in Earth's orbit:


      Like the European Space Agency, China has also worked on vehicles to
      replace the Space Shuttle, such as this space plane:


      On the right image below is the launch pad at
      Japan’s largest space development centre at Tanegashima. Japan also
      has a space center at Uchinoura (Mv rocket, left image):

      (images courtesy Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

      Hope-X was Japan’s version of the Space Shuttle, which originally
      dates back to the 1980’s. It was going to be part of Japan’s involvement
      in the International Space Station project, but was cancelled in 2003:

      (images credit: NASDA; Marcus Lindroos,

      India’s space program is based at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre
      near Chennai in Southern India:

      (images via

      Here we see one of the Indian rockets for the unmanned Moon mission in


      Here’s the nosecone of the rocket (left) and a blast off (right):

      (images via 1,

      Oceansat-2 is India’s sixteenth remote sensing satellite, launched
      in 2009:


      Avatar is an unmanned single-stage reusable space plane currently
      developed by India for use as a satellite launcher (left image below). On
      the right is the model of the Indian space shuttle called "Reusable Launch
      Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator":

      (images via

      Iran announced in the summer of 2011 that it had plans to send a
      monkey into orbit as part of its space program. Iran has also previously
      stated that it plans to send a man into space by 2017. The Iranian Space
      Agency is mostly based in Semnan province in the north of the country,
      where Iran has cooperated with North Korea and Pakistan in the past:

      (images via)

      Head of Iran’s Omid Satellite rocket:


      Here’s a launch rocket at the Brazilian Space Agency’s Alcantara
      Base in the northeast of the country. The space program used to be run by
      the military, but came under civilian control in 1994. Brazil launched its
      first rocket successfully into space in October 2004. In 2006, the first
      Brazilian astronaut traveled to the International Space Station as part of
      the Expedition 5 mission:


      The agency also operates the Barreira do Inferno Launch Center (right):

      (image via)

      The Israel Space Agency was founded in 1983 and Palmachim Airbase
      serves as Israel’s main spaceport, with launches taking place over the
      Mediterranean Sea:


      And of course, it isn’t just governments involved in the space race these
      days, but private companies as well.

      SpaceShipOne was a suborbital air-launched spaceplane developed by
      Mojave Aerospace Ventures. In 2004, the plane undertook the world’s first
      manned private spaceflight, with the assistance of the mother ship White
      Knight, winning a $10 million prize in the process. SpaceShipOne was
      immediately retired from service but a successor was soon being developed:

      (images via

      Highly successful British entrepreneur Richard Branson launched
      Virgin Galactic to promote suborbital spaceflight and intends to
      offer orbital flights at some point in the future. The Spaceship Company
      is a joint venture between Virgin and Scaled Composites, designers of


      Unveiled to the waiting world in late 2009, here we see Spaceship 2 and
      its mother ship, White Knight, which carries it to the outer reaches of

      (images via

      This would probably end up to be the Biggest Aircraft Ever Built

      Stratolaunch Systems
      (a Paul G. Allen project) have developed this giant aircraft, which will
      have test flights in 2015 with an operational launch planned for 2016. It
      will be used to launch private spacecraft carrying cargo, and eventually
      people, into orbit. The giant aircraft combines parts from
      two 747 airliners, including six engines. The wingspan is 385 feet,
      longer than the International Space Station.

      (image credit:
        Stratolaunch Systems)

      BONUS: Here is an interesting image from the 1963 issue of LIFE
      magazine: "The New Astronauts" learn to eat while weightless -

      (image credit: LIFE Magazine)

      CONTINUE TO "PROJECT ORION: Powered by an Atomic Bomb Machine Gun"!


      Avi Abrams is the creator, writer, and owner of Dark Roasted
      Simon Rose is the
        author of science fiction and fantasy novels for children, including
        The Alchemist's Portrait,
        The Sorcerer's Letterbox,
        The Clone Conspiracy,
        The Emerald Curse,
        The Heretic's Tomb
        The Doomsday Mask
        The Time Camera.


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Anonymous Cras said...

Awesome article! Never knew that Brazil and Israel had a space-program.

Blogger Andrew said...

I live just a few miles from the Alcântara site in Brazil. You can only get in to see it if you make an appointment.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what.. no love for the Danes

Anonymous Markus said...

For the record, the bluesuiters are Frank Borman on the left and Jim Lovell on the right, and upside down in the middle is Tom Stafford.

Blogger Pseudonym said...

A little-known fact: If you go by launch rate (i.e. how many craft are launched per unit time), the busiest spaceport in the world is Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The second-busiest, however, is not on the list in this article at all. It's at Woomera, in South Australia.

Anonymous steve said...

Cool article, it's amazing to see some of the rockets being built nowadays but a little sad that we've progressed so little...we got to the moon then stopped dreaming! Hope to see us heading out to mars within the next decade or so, humanity needs to leave home.


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