Tag Archives: the new colonial movement

India to attempt four more launches in 2018

The new colonial movement: In outlining the success of yesterday’s GSLV launch, the head of India’s space agency noted that they will attempt to complete four more launches before the end of the year.

Following the missions, Mr Sivan said, in January next, ISRO would launch the Chandrayaan-II mission (lunar lander) which will be the first operational mission of the GSLV-Mk III-vehicle.

Addressing reporters after the successful launch of the second developmental flight GSLV-MkIII-D2 carrying communication satellite GSAT-29, he said, “we have to achieve 10 missions before January.”

“That is six satellite missions as well as four launch vehicle missions. Definitely, the task in front of us is very huge,” he said.

According to him, after Wednesday’s flight, the heaviest launcher of India has completed its development flights and is entering into the operational group of launchers of ISRO, that is along with the PSLV (polar satellite launch vehicle) and GSLV.

Four launches in six weeks would require a launch every week and a half. IF ISRO can do this, they will demonstrate the ability to launch almost weekly, a capability that would place them close to becoming a world power in space.

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India’s GSLV-Mark 3 rocket successfully launches communications satellite

The new colonial movement: India today successfully launched a new Indian communications satellite on the third launch of its larger GSLV-Mark 3 rocket.

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk.III, or GSLV Mk.III, is India’s newest and most powerful rocket. After making a suborbital demonstration launch in late 2014, the rocket made its first orbital mission last June when it deployed the GSAT-19 spacecraft.

Wednesday’s launch was designated D2, indicating that it was the rocket’s second developmental launch, however like last year’s flight its payload – GSAT-29 – is a fully operational satellite.

I have embedded a video of the launch below the fold. The launch occurs at about 25 minutes in.

With this success, the fifth launch this year by India, that country will be able to move forward on the January launch by the GSLV of its Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission.

The leaders in the 2018 launch race remains unchanged:

31 China
17 SpaceX
10 Russia
8 ULA
8 Europe (Arianespace)

China continues to lead the U.S. in the national rankings, 31 to 28.
» Read more

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Australian agency pushes Australia to join NASA Gateway project

The new colonial movement: An Australian government agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), has put forth a space roadmap for that nation that includes a push for them to participate in NASA’s lunar orbiting Gateway project.

“And when you look at a moon base, the support systems of oxygen, water, food – and the general support systems around it – is something that nobody has ever done before,” he said. “When we looked around Australia, these are areas where Australia has as much skill as anyone else. Things like dry farming capabilities, remote mining capability, the fact that CSIRO perfected the titanium dust that you can 3-D print from … there are a whole range of things where we can potentially contribute.” It is an interesting fact that Australia has exceptional expertise in 3D printing titanium. This is even more interesting when you consider that on the moon – according to Dave Williams – there is an oxide that is very similar to titanium that could be reduced to a titanium dust, with oxygen as a by-product.

“Realistically, NASA will lead the whole thing. But they will be looking for partners, and the idea will be to identify which niche areas Australia should try to push its industry into, and try to get support for and to make it work,” he said.

Essentially, they are proposing that Australia get in on the Gateway boondoggle by focusing on and then offering to provide peripheral support services.

Much of this is bureaucratic twaddle, not to be taken too seriously. At the same time, it does outline for Australia areas where there are needs, and where their private space companies could make money.

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Kenya creates space agency

The new colonial movement: Kenya today announced the official establishment of its own space agency, the Kenya Space Agency Board (KSAB).

KSAB was established by President Uhuru Kenyatta through a March 2017 gazette notice and will be headed by the Kenya Defence Forces’ Major General (Rtd) James Aruasa.

The array of KSAB’s responsibilities include co-ordinating space-related activities, recommending national space policies and establishing centres of excellence in space science.

It appears to me that there a power struggle is going on in Kenya over space, with the wrong people winning. A university team recently built the nation’s first cubesat, getting it launched as a secondary payload. This space board however seems entirely run by the government and its military. I fear that this turf war is going to squelch any future Kenyan space development.

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Luxembourg formally establishes space agency

The new colonial movement: Luxembourg this week formally established its space agency, along with a fund to back new commercial space companies.

Unlike traditional national space agencies, which support spacecraft missions and scientific research, the Luxembourg Space Agency will focus primarily on building up the country’s space industry as well as supporting education and workforce development.

Schneider noted that Luxembourg’s recent efforts, most notably the SpaceResources.lu project to attract companies working in the nascent space resources field, had led to 20 countries establishing a presence in the country. “All this is why it’s so important to me to launch today this Luxembourg Space Agency in order to professionalize our approach to this new community,” he said.

Serres said that the agency will work with a wide range of other organizations, both within the government and the private sector, to meet the agency’s goals. “The agency will be well-equipped to support industry in their daily challenges, and it leads to the most favorable environment for this sector to continue to grow,” he said, describing its four “strategic lines” as expertise, innovation, skills and funding.

That last item will include a new fund for supporting space companies. Schneider announced that the space agency will work with other government agencies and the private sector to establish the Luxembourg Space Fund, valued at 100 million euros ($116 million). The fund, according to a government statement, will “provide equity funding for new space companies with ground-breaking ideas and technology.”

Only part of the new fund will involve government money. “It will be a public-private partnership, where the government will take a share of 30 to 40 percent,” Schneider said.

The agency’s entire work force will be about 12 people, since its focus will be attracting private space companies to come to Luxembourg.

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India teams up with France to prep for its first manned mission

The new colonial movement: India has signed a cooperative deal with France to provide them help in preparing for its first manned mission in 2022, now dubbed Gaganyaan by India’s press.

Following the signing of agreements between the two parties on Thursday, the agencies “will be combining their expertise in the fields of space medicine, astronaut health monitoring, life support, radiation protection, space debris protection and personal hygiene systems.”

The announcement was made by CNES [France’s space agency] president Jean-Yves Le Gall during the inaugural of Bengaluru Space Expo-2018 where he was the chief guest. It is being organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry along with ISRO and Antrix, the agency’s commercial arm, from September 6 to 8.

The two countries will also work together on other space research.

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Luxembourg announces creation of space agency

The new colonial movement: Luxembourg today announced that it will officially launch its own space agency as of September 12, 2018.

Unlike US space agency Nasa, Luxembourg’s agency will not carry out research or launches. Its purpose is to accelerate collaborations between economic project leaders of the space sector, investors and other partners.

The agency will back an investment fund to invest in promising projects. Head of space affairs Marc Serres told Delano in May 2018 that financing was one of the department’s five pillars. Serres said at the time the fund would be a public private initiative with the state as anchor investor and private investors running it.

As eccentric as Luxembourg’s overall philosophy to tax dollars might be (treating it all as investment capital to invest for profit), this approach in terms of its space agency is right on the money. Not only will their investments bring profits back to their taxpayers (who are really being treated here as investors), they are using this tax money investment as a way to draw private enterprise to their country.

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India’s manned flight schedule revealed

The new colonial movement: K. Sivan, the head of India’s space agency ISRO, announced yesterday the planned flight program that will lead up to that nation’s first manned spaceflight in 2022.

The Indian Space Research Organisation will conduct two flights of unmanned space capsules about 30 months and 36 months from now in preparation for the country’s first manned space mission by 2022, space agency officials announced on Tuesday.

The manned space capsule will be designed for a five-to-seven day mission about 300km to 400km above the Earth, officials said, adding that Isro has for over a decade been developing key technologies for human space flight.

Isro has designed a three-person space capsule but how many astronauts will be sent in the first mission has not been decided yet, they said. Only Russia, the US and China have until now sent astronauts into space aboard their own spacecraft.

This entire program hinges on the repeated successful use of India’s most powerful rocket, the GSLV Mark 3, which has only flown once so far. Two more launches are scheduled through January, including one that will take India’s first lunar lander to the Moon.

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China unveils next lunar rover

The new colonial movement: In unveiling its next lunar rover, China today also announced they will hold a contest to name it.

Images displayed at Wednesday’s press conference showed the rover was a rectangular box with two foldable solar panels and six wheels. It is 1.5 meters long, 1 meter wide and 1.1 meters high.

Wu Weiren, the chief designer of China’s lunar probe program, said the Chang’e-4 rover largely kept the shape and conditions of its predecessor, Yutu (Jade Rabbit), China’s first lunar rover for the Chang’e-3 lunar probe in 2013. However, it also has adaptable parts and an adjustable payload configuration to deal with the complex terrain on the far side of the moon, the demand of relay communication, and the actual needs of the scientific objectives, according to space scientists.

Like Yutu, the rover will be equipped with four scientific payloads, including a panoramic camera, infrared imaging spectrometer and radar measurement devices, to obtain images of moon’s surface and detect lunar soil and structure.

The Chang’e-4 lunar probe will land on the Aitken Basin of the lunar south pole region on the far side of the moon, which is a hot spot for scientific and space exploration. Direct communication with the far side of the moon, however, is not possible, which is one of the many challenges for the Chang’e-4 lunar probe mission. China launched a relay satellite, named Queqiao, in May, to set up a communication link between the Earth and Chang’e-4 lunar probe.

I am not sure what they mean by “adaptable parts and an adjustable payload configuration.” That sounds like they upgraded this rover’s design to allow them to use it to build many similar rovers for use elsewhere, not just on the Moon. This sounds good, but the conditions on other planets are so different I’m not sure a direct transfer of the rover will work very well.

Chang’e-4’s launch is presently scheduled for December.

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India’s prime minister: manned mission by 2022

The new colonial movement: Facing an election next year, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi produced his own Kennedy-like space speech today, announcing a plan to launch a manned Indian mission by 2022.

Wearing a flowing saffron turban, the Hindu nationalist leader also announced the plan to take the “Indian tricolor to space” in a manned mission that would make India the fourth nation to launch one, after the United States, Russia and China. “India is proud of our scientists, who are excelling in their research and are at the forefront of innovation,” Modi said from the ramparts of the Mughal-era Red Fort in Delhi to a crowd numbering in the tens of thousands.

“In the year 2022 or, if possible, before, India will unfurl the tricolor in space.”

He also announced a healthcare initiative that has been dubbed “Modicare.” He was elected in a landslide to replace the socialist policies of the leftwing Congress Party. He is now beginning to act like the U.S.’s establishment Republican Party, who love to mouth conservative values but advocate leftist programs to win re-election.

The question is whether the Indian people will be more like Americans of the 20th century, buying into these government programs proposed by a fake-conservative, or whether they will be more like an increasing number of Americans today, sick of too much government. I suspect the former, which will bode ill for India’s future.

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Ghana considers its first national space law

The new colonial movement: Ghana moves to write and pass its first national space law.

In setting out space legislation, Ghana would be following international precedent. More than 25 countries have enacted such laws. The space powers Russia and the US are among them, but so are smaller states like Argentina, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and Iran. Closer to home, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa already have space laws. Other nations on the continent will undoubtedly follow suit.

A national space law would ensure that space activities launched within Ghana’s jurisdiction – whether on land, ships or aircraft – and perhaps even abroad by its nationals or registered companies are appropriately regulated. Such laws may govern a host of space-related ventures. These include launches; remote sensing and space data protection; aeronautics; rocket and satellite development, space tourism and space mining.

Of course, the complexity of space activities combined with the rapid pace at which technology develops means that national space laws are unlikely to cover every eventuality. They do, however, provide a degree of certainty for the public, investors and courts should disputes arise. National laws also facilitate compliance with global obligations. Article 6 of the Outer Space Treaty, for example, requires all space activities to be authorised and continually supervised by the state. National laws which demand licensing of space activities foster adherence to the treaty.

Article 7 makes states liable for damage caused by space objects under its jurisdiction, including those belonging to private commercial entities. A Space Act can be vital in limiting a state’s liability through provisions on indemnities.

Ghana has signed the Outer Space Treaty. The next step will be for the government to ratify it, and then to establish a legislative framework for space activities. [emphasis mine]

I have highlighted the fundamental problem with the Outer Space Treaty. If Ghana wants to attract investment capital for its space industry, they are forced to sign the treaty. It establishes the only existing rules for liability. Unfortunately, the treaty is also hostile to freedom, and puts the government in charge, which is why it has taken so long for private enterprise to finally gain a foothold in space.

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ISRO schedules Chandrayaan-2 launch for January 3rd

The new colonial movement: ISRO has now scheduled the launch of the lunar rover/lander Chandrayaan-2 on its most powerful rocket for January 3, 2019.

An increase in the spacecraft’s weight forced the space agency to switch launch rockets and use India’s most powerful rocket, the GSLV Mark 3.

The 3,890-kg Chandrayaan-2, which will be launched onboard the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk-3, will orbit around the moon and study its lunar conditions to collect data on its topography, mineralogy and exosphere.

A lander with rover which will separate from the spacecraft will orbit the moon, and then gradually descend on the lunar surface at a designated spot. The rover’s instruments will observe and study the lunar surface.

The lander has been named “Vikram” as a tribute to the pioneer of India’s space programme and former ISRO chairman (1963-71), Vikram Sarabhai, Sivan said.

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Nine finalists for UAE’s astronaut corps of four

The new colonial movement: The United Arab Emirates has reduced its astronaut candidate pool to nine in preparation for choosing the person who will fly on a Russian Soyuz to ISS.

These finalists will now undergo training and assessment by the Russians. The actual flight is presently set for April 2019.

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Dubai to fund 36 science space projects

The new colonial movement: Dubai has chosen 36 science space projects to fund out of 260 proposals from across the world.

The 36 funded projects include some from universities in the United States, Poland, the UK, and Italy and deal with a variety of topics, ranging from mushrooms on Mars to the study of possible landing sites on the planet.

The article at the link provides very few details. It appears that Dubai’s program is designed to bring in international talent to help train its own people in the science and engineering of space.

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Kenya’s first satellite to be deployed tomorrow from ISS

The new colonial movement: Kenya’s first satellite, a cubesat built by students at the engineering school at the University of Nairobi, will be deployed tomorrow from ISS.

The cubesat was launched by SpaceX in its Dragon cargo freighter in early April, and was built using funding from the UN with technical help from Japan.

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China aims to reuse vertically-landed first stages by 2020

One of China’s top space engineers said this week at a conference that they are aiming to reuse vertically-landed first stages by 2020 on a new Long March 8 rocket.

At an aerospace industry seminar on Tuesday, leading Chinese carrier rocket designer Long Lehao said that China is expected to realize vertical recycling – similar to the technology employed by US-based firm SpaceX – by 2020 at the earliest on its CZ-8 rockets. This will further lower the price tag of a launch and boost China’s chances of getting international commercial satellite launch orders, the CCTV report said.

Lan Tianyi, founder of Beijing-based Ultimate Blue Nebula Co, a space industry consultancy, said China will become the second rocket power to have this capacity, putting the country ahead of Russia and the EU. However, Lan said that while the aim of recycling rockets is to reduce costs for launch operators, whether this can be achieved remains to be seen.

The recycled rockets developed by SpaceX are reported to have helped the company reduce launch costs by as much as 30 percent, according to media reports.

“There is no way to verify SpaceX’s claim, as it is the only company that owns the technology, and China has to wait for the moment when it has successfully recycled a rocket to see whether the costs can be lowered,” Lan told the Global Times on Thursday.

Right now, the politics in China are extremely favorable for space development, with so many top posts occupied by former space managers. Thus, it seems reasonable to believe that the country is investing the cash necessary to develop rocket stages that can land vertically. If they do it, they will put themselves in a strong position for future space colonization, because such technology is essential for landing spacecraft on other worlds. Right now, only the U.S. has done this repeatedly and successfully.

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Putin promises a Russian Mars mission in 2019

The new colonial movement: In a documentary released this week Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged that his country will send an unmanned mission to Mars in 2019, and that it will be aimed at studying water at the red planet’s poles.

This is funny. Putin is likely referring to ExoMars 2020, which Russia is partnering with the European Space Agency (ESA). In that mission, Russia is providing the rocket and the descent and landing technology for ESA’s rover. To claim that this is a Russian mission is a bit of an over-statement, since the only Mars-related equipment Russia is building involves the landing, and the ESA is also participating in that work.

Nonetheless, Putin’s words here illustrate how the competition is heating up. Every nation wants its share of the exploration of the solar system, and they are beginning to ramp up their efforts to make that happen.

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China’s 2017 year in review

Link here. The review summarizes every significant achievement and failure that occurred in the Chinese space industry in the past year. Unfortunately, it provides no further information of the cause of the launch failure of Long March 5 in July, nor when that rocket, China’s biggest, will resume launches.

The article also summarizes China’s long term plans as released earlier in the year. This quote struck me as most interesting:

The main contractor for the Chinese space programme, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), set out a space transportation roadmap in November. These targets include flying the low-cost Long March 8 by 2020, development of a reusable space plane by 2025, and super heavy-lift launch vehicle, referred to as the Long March 9, to make its maiden flight by 2030.

2035 is the target for full reusability for its launch vehicles, while 2040 is marked for developing next-gen launch vehicles capable of multiple interplanetary round-trips, exploiting space resources as well as a nuclear-powered space shuttle.

I don’t know if China will achieve these goals, but I do know that it intends to try, and that this effort guarantees that the 21st century will be the century where what I call the new colonial movement will take flight, with many nations on Earth pushing and succeeding in the establishment of viable bases on other worlds.

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UAE invites its citizens to apply to join its astronaut program

The new colonial movement: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) today launched its astronaut program, inviting its citizens to apply for four positions that they hope to eventually fly to ISS.

Much of this effort is simply propaganda designed to push the UAE to diversify its economy and encourage aerospace development. Nonetheless, when SpaceX’s Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner are operational there will be nothing to prevent those companies from selling seats on them to the UAE, much as the Russians have done with tourists in the past. In fact, I expect this to happen.

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China says Long March 5 will resume launches in 2018

The new colonial movement: Though the details are vague, a Chinese official said earlier this week that they now expect to resume launches of their Long March 5 rocket in 2018.

The article says that the July launch failure of the second Long March 5 was due to “a manufacturing defect affecting one of two YF-77 engines powering the first stage. If officially confirmed, this would mean no major effects such as redesign are required, meaning a relatively swift return to flight.”

The long delay since July however suggests to me that the defect was more serious, and has either required that redesign or a complete recall of all YF-77 engines.

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Ethiopia and India consider space partnership

The new colonial movement: Ethiopia and India are in discussions about forging a space partnership.

The article gives little details about this partnership, focusing mostly in describing Ethiopia’s space ambitions.

The Ethiopian government announced in early 2017 that it intends to build its own medium-sized space launch vehicle (SLV) and develop the capabilities to domestically build satellites. The Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) said that it will develop a medium-sized SLV that should have its maiden launch within the next three years, according to MOST spokesperson Wondwosen Andualem.

Andualem also pointed out that Ethiopian capacity and capability to build its own satellites is increasing, thanks in part to the partnerships forged by Ethiopia with foreign governments and companies. The Ethiopian government has already stated that it seeks to develop and build satellites for the purposes of national security, disaster management and response, and land management.

…In November 2015, the Mekele Institute of Technology in Ethiopia launched a rocket called Alpha Meles to an altitude of 30 kilometres. The Alpha Meles rocket is believed to cost U.S.$2.3 million to develop, build, and launch, but there have been no reports of any subsequent launches of the rocket.

The question of whether Ethiopia really has a space program remains unclear. It could be that they are exploring this partnership with India because of internal problems getting their independent rockets off the ground.

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Luxembourg and UAE sign space agreement

The new colonial movement: The governments of Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates yesterday signed a space agreement, focused on working together to promote the development of space resources.

The press release is vague about the details in the agreement, though it is obvious that both nations are interested in promoting the profitable uses of space.

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Russia and Saudi Arabia sign space agreement

The new colonial movement: This week Russia and Saudi Arabia signed another in a series of space cooperative agreements.

While specific details about the space exploration agreement are not available, it is the result of high level discussions between senior officials from the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research in Moscow.

…Saudi Arabia, along with its ally and neighbour the United Arab Emirates, has been assiduous in its efforts to cultivate close and substantive ties with the space agencies of leading space powers such as the United States, China, Europe, Russia, India, and Japan.

Over the past several weeks alone it has been reported that the UAE and Russia are in discussions about training and launching Emirati astronauts as Abu Dhabi embarks on its own human space flight programme. In the case of Saudi-Russian cooperation, Saudi Arabia brings much needed financial resources to a struggling space programme, while Russia brings potential technology and science transfers in space launch, planetary sciences, space probe technologies, human space flight, and space mission design, planning, architectures, and operations.

It appears that Saudi Arabia has the cash that Russia needs, and Russia has the expertise, rockets, and space station that Saudi Arabia needs. A deal made in heaven.

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UAE announces manned spaceflight plans

The new colonial movement: The United Arab Emirates has announced their plans to establish an astronaut corps that would fly on the manned spacecraft of other nations.

The first of those astronauts would fly by the end of 2021, the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. “We have not decided on who will be flying us yet,” he said. “We do envisage that we partner up with all of the major space agencies, somehow and in some structure.”

There would be several options for the UAE to choose from, including Soyuz flights by Russia to the International Space Station and Shenzhou flights to a Chinese space station slated to be completed by the early 2020s. Other options include flights on commercial crew vehicles being developed by Boeing and SpaceX.

To me, the really exciting aspect of this is that the UAE is now a new customer looking for a means to get its people into space, which makes all those manned programs, including the American private companies, competitors for that business.

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Australia to create its own space agency

The new colonial movement: The Australian government has announced that it plans to create a space agency.

Despite persistent calls for a national space agency, the current government took no steps until last July, when Arthur Sinodinos, the federal minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, set up an expert review group to study the country’s space industry capabilities. To date, the group has received nearly 200 written submissions and held meetings across the country.

Facing calls for action last week from the participants at the Adelaide meeting, Acting Industry Minister Michaelia Cash announced that the working group will develop a charter for the space agency that will be included in a wider space industry strategy.

Australian space policy as mirrored Great Britain’s for the past half century, in that both countries refused to spend any government money for space. However, creating a new government agency is not the same as creating a thriving private space industry. It will be the strategy here that will matter. In Great Britain the strategy initially for its new space agency was for the government to run everything. Soon however it shifted instead to encouraging private competition. We shall see what Australia does.

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Angola establishes its first space strategy

The new colonial movement: Angola has enacted its first space strategy, aimed at encouraging a new space industry in that nation.

The document is mostly government bureaucratic blather. More important, it seems mostly centered on what Angola’s governmental space agencies will do in the future. The policy makes nice about encouraging the private sector, but offers little to actually accomplish this.

Nonetheless, this action once again shows that more and more countries across the globe want in on the exploration of the solar system. The international competition is going to be fierce.

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