The space between China and India
June 26, 2012

When it comes to space, the gap between China and India couldn’t have been larger.

Beijing sent its first astronaut into space in 2003 and in June 2012 Liu Yang (pic) became the first Chinese woman to enter the final frontier. In comparison India’s first manned space flight is unlikely to happen by the 2016 deadline.

Both nations earlier snubbed by the west, have since developed their space missions at drastically different paces. Having to build their own space R&D, technology, satellites and rockets, China’s ambitious plans of putting a man on the moon meant that they invested skills, capital and technology. Meanwhile, while the same attitude lacked perspective in India. Although a scientist was recently President of the country, India failed to boost either capital or interest in her space mission. As a result, it remains doubtful if India will even be able to meet her 2016 deadline, although it comes more than a decade after China.

One can blame a whole lot of factors in India’s unambitious space journey, yet drive and funding seem to be their biggest problems. The US$1.6 billion allocation to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in this year’s budget was the highest ever, and is only a meagre increase over last year’s US$1.45 billion. That amounts to just 3 percent of the funding earmarked by the US space programme. Comparatively too, China has planned about 19 billion yuan (US$3 billion), double India’s budget for the country’s space rendezvous and docking missions, according to the country’s manned space programme.

The budget will cover the ongoing Shenzhou IX spacecraft manned space docking mission, the previous missions conducted by Shenzhou VII, Shenzhou VIII spaceships, and the mission to be carried out by the Shenzhou X spaceship next year, Xinhua News Agency quoted spokeswoman for China’s manned space programm Wu Ping as saying.

According to Wu, the country has spent another 20 billion yuan (˜US$3 billion) in investment in manned space missions carried out by Shenzhou VI and previous spaceships, since the manned space missions started in 1992.

China’s mission, is intended as a step towards building a Chinese orbiting space station. American disfavour prevented Chinese involvement in the allegedly international station currently orbiting Earth, so CNSA, China’s space agency, decided to construct its own. On June 18th, the two craft docked automatically and later undock, it will now attempt to re-dock under manual control. Then, after 13 days in space, Shenzhou will return to Earth.

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