The opposition of two world systems, socialism and capitalism, which is also called Cold War, is over. Today’s young generation operates within other categories, and, in its estimation, it does not limit itself with the primitive formula “enemy against enemy.” Though, nothing is as unclouded as it seems. After having stopped existing on the Earth, the Cold War has moved to outer space. Two meglopowers, Russia and the US, and China, which is close on their heels face each other in a death fight for leadership in space. The stakes are very high, and nobody wants to lose.
Russia is champion as for longevity of human beings staying in space; moreover, it has good carrier rockets able to bring into the orbit nearly anything. It is very important that Russian prices in this field are much lower than those of the Americans, Frenchmen, and others. The first to evaluated this were the Australians: they concluded a treaty with the Rosaviakosmos agency. The Russian program of space tourism has also started successfully.
Other directions of cooperation are also being developed actively. In particular, on July 12, from the Ryazan submarine of the Northern Fleet, the Demonstrator-2 descent vehicle was launched. The experiment was carried out to confirm wide possibilities of inflatable arrangements with flexible heat-shielding in descending loads from space to the Earth. According to the program of the flight, after the capsule with the Demonstrator-2 is separated from the carrier rocket and the protecting shell is thrown down, the Demonstrator-2 should rotate around its axis: this is necessary to enter the atmosphere from the proper angle. Afterwards, the first cascade of the inflatable arrangement is filled; the second cascade is then filled as well. These are produced of a special fabric. The starting of the second cascade guarantees a reduction of the speed to the moment of landing, up to 15-17 meters per second. The underwater start of the descent vehicle was carried with the Russian carrier-rocket Volna, created by the Makeev design office on basis of the RSM-50 ballistic missile.
According to preliminary information, the start was carried out in a proper way. The weight of the space vehicle in transport state is 145 kg. In the project, Rosavikosmos agency, European Space Agency, Babakin Research Center, Lavochkin Science and Producing Association, Makeev Design Office, Astrium firm, and others participate.
The United Stated decided that space has become crowded and it should master far space. Now, an expedition to Pluto is the main task for NASA: the first automatic probe could start as early as 2003.
The financing of the mission was stopped several times; however, this time, it will be most likely carried out. It cannot be postponed, because, in 2020, a 100-year-long winter will start on Pluto, which will freeze the atmosphere of the planet and cause troubles for research.
The flight to Pluto should answer some fundamental questions connected with appearing of solar system and origin of life on the Earth. Many scientists consider the meteorite belt to be a source of comets and asteroids, while according to some suggestions, namely these small bodies could have brought life to the Earth.
It is supposed that space vehicles will start every 6 months: first, the Europa Geophysical Explorer vehicle will be launched, which must investigate Europa, the Jupiter satellite covered with ice. The preparation and launch of every probe will cost for NASA 350-650 million dollars.
An ambitious competitor of the US and Russia is China. China plans to realize its first piloted space flight already in 2003-2004, The Times of India reports referring to Pentagon’s report to the US Congress.
According to the report, Beijing possesses the necessary information about the space programs of other countries and, in the nearest future, it intends to launch its own orbit station or even a space shuttle.
“China has made serious progress in preparing to launch a human being into space. The first pilotless ship was launched in November, 1999; the second was launched in January, 2001.” The space program should start working in full during 2010 to 2020.
In addition, Beijing also has some other parallel programs; in particular, it will create superpower surface lasers that can be used to annihilate potential enemy satellites.
Besides these three countries, there are also India, Israel, and others who also want bite off a bit from space.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/07/15/44154.html