Space Ace

Looks like things are heating up! America is still head honcho and Russia is close behind but China and Japan are charging ahead full-speed. Europe will one day find itself in the starting blocks once its committee has adjourned.

What am I talking about? Why, that infinite void that rules us all: space!

Japan has just announced that it's going to start sending probes to the moon as a precursor to a manned, solar-powered moonbase. It's also going to develop a re-usable shuttle and try to put some pressure on China to see who is going to be the Asian space-overlord! Japan has put a timeline of completion by 2025.

The US is going to restart its shuttle program sometime this summer after some friction with the atmosphere. It's way behind on building its next-gen shuttle but there will probably be one in the next decade. Russia has a shuttle (shut down 'cause it's too expensive) but right now it's little more than a bus service to the ISS. Note: before the ISS started construction, if you looked at the space program disaster rates up to that point and then looked at the number of missions required to build the ISS, you could estimate that there would likely be two catastrophic missions.

China, who added "taikonaut" to "cosmonaut" and "astronaut", have the goal of putting a man on the moon in the coming years. They've got the technology and the drive to join the other two spacefarers so this one is a gimme. Europe will be launching satellites for the foreseeable future and buying their way into other nation's spaceplanes.

I hold no hope for seeing a man on Mars in my lifetime (Bush has quietly abandoned that little plan after hearing how much it would cost) but I think a moonbase might be in my cards.