Comparison of Asian national space programs

Several Asian countries have space programs and are actively competing to achieve scientific and technological advancements in space, a situation sometimes referred to as the Asian space race in the popular media[1] as a reference to the earlier Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Like the previous space race, issues involved in the current push to space include national security, which has spurred many countries to send artificial satellites as well as humans into Earth orbit and beyond.[2] A number of Asian countries are seen as contenders in the ongoing race to be the pre-eminent power in space.[3]

Asian space agencies and programs

  Human Lunar Exploration + Operates Space Station + Human Spaceflight + Operates Extraterrestrial Probes + Launch Capability + Operates Satellites
  Station + Human Spaceflight + Operates Extraterrestrial Probes + Launch Capability + Operates Satellites
  Human spaceflight + Operates Extraterrestrial Probes + Launch Capability + Operates Satellites
  Operates Extraterrestrial Probes + Launch Capability + Operates Satellites
  Launch Capability + Operates Satellites
  None Of The Above
Country Name Initialisms/Acronym Founded Terminated Capabilities of the space agency Remarks
Astronauts Operates Satellites Sounding Rockets capable Recoverable Biological Sounding Rockets capable
 Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization SPARRSO 1980NoNoNoNo [4]
 People's Republic of China China National Space Administration
(Chinese: 国家航天局)
CNSA 22 April 1993YesYesYesYes [5]
 India Indian Space Research Organisation
(Hindi: भारतीय अंतरिक्ष अनुसंधान संगठन)
ISRO
इसरो
15 August 1969YesYesYesYes [6][7][8]
 Indonesia Indonesian: Lembaga Antariksa dan Penerbangan Nasional
(National Institute of Aeronautics and Space)
LAPAN 27 November 1964YesYesYesNo
 Iran Iranian Space Agency
(Persian: سازمان فضایی ایران)
ISA 2003NoYesYesYes [9][10][11]
 Israel Israeli Space Agency
(Hebrew: סוכנות החלל הישראלית)
ISA
סל"ה
April 1983YesYesYesNo
 Japan Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
(Japanese: 宇宙航空研究開発機構)
JAXA 1 October 2003YesYesYesYes [12][13]
 Malaysia Malaysian National Space Agency
(Malay: Agensi Angkasa Negara)
ANGKASA 2002YesYesNoNo [14]
 North Korea Korean Committee of Space Technology
(Korean: 조선우주공간기술위원회)
KCST 1980s2013NoYesYesNo [15][16][17]
 Pakistan Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission
(Urdu: پاکستان خلائی و بالا فضائی تحقی‍قاتی کمیشن)
SUPARCO
سپارکو
16 September 1961NoYesYesNo
 Philippines Philippine Space Agency PhilSA 8 August 2019NoYesNoNo [18]
 South Korea Korea Aerospace Research Institute
(Korean: 한국항공우주연구원)
KARI 10 October 1989YesYesYesNo
 Republic of China National Space Organization
(Chinese: 國家太空中心)
NSPO 3 October 1991NoYesYesNo [19]
 Thailand Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency
(Thai: สำนักงานพัฒนาเทคโนโลยีอวกาศและภูมิสารสนเทศ)
GISTDA
สทอภ
3 November 2002NoYesNoNo [20]

Asian space powers

Of the ten countries that have independently successfully launched a satellite into orbit, six countries: Japan (1970), China (1970), India (1980), Israel (1988), Iran (2009) and North Korea (2012), are Asian. Of six major space powers in world which have full launch capabilities to transfer heavy payloads in geosynchronous orbits, can launch multiple and recoverable satellites, deploy cryogenic engines and operate extraterrestrial exploration missions, three (China, India and Japan) are Asian.

China's first manned spacecraft entered orbit in October 2003, making China the first Asian nation to send a human into space.[21] India expects to send Vyomnauts to space in the Gaganyaan capsule by 2022.[22]

While the achievements of space programs run by the main Asian space players (China, India, and Japan) pale in comparison to the milestones set by the former Soviet Union and the United States, some experts believe Asia may soon lead the world in space exploration.[23] Each Asian spacefaring country has its own dominance in specific aerospace aspect. For instance, the first Chinese manned spaceflight, in 2003, marked the beginning of a space race in the region and India is the first Asian country to successfully launch a Mars orbiter (and the first country in the world to do so in its first attempt). At the same time, the existence of a space race in Asia is still debated due to the non-concurrence of space milestone events like there was for the United States and the Soviet Union. Japan for example was the first power on Earth to get a sample return mission from an asteroid. There was however some concurrence between China and India to see which of those two could be the first to launch a probe to the Earth's moon back in the late 2000s decade. China, for example, denies that there is an Asian space race.[24] In January 2007 China became the first Asian military-space power to send an anti-satellite missile into orbit, to destroy an aging Chinese Feng Yun 1C weather satellite in polar orbit. The resulting explosion sent a wave of debris hurtling through space at more than 6 miles per second.[25][26] India did the same in 2019 by shooting down its own satellite Microsat-R. The operation was named Mission Shakti[27] A month later, Japan's space agency launched an experimental communications satellite designed to enable super high-speed data transmission in remote areas.[25]

After successful achievement of geostationary technology, India's ISRO launched its first Moon mission, Chandrayaan-1 in October 2008, which discovered ice water on the Moon.[28] India then launched on 5 November 2013 its maiden interplanetary mission, the Mars Orbiter Mission. The primary objective is to determine Mars' atmospheric composition and attempt to detect methane. The spacecraft completed its journey on 24 September 2014 when it entered its intended orbit around Mars, making India the first Asian country to successfully place a Mars orbiter and the only country in history to do so in the first attempt. ISRO became the fourth space agency in the world to send a spacecraft to Mars, only behind NASA, ROSCOSMOS, and ESA. China & India have tested their anti- satellite weapons respectively in 2007 and 2019, making them only countries after US & USSR/Russia to possess ASAT weapons.

In addition to increasing national pride, countries are commercially motivated to operate in space. Commercial satellites are launched for communications, weather forecasting, and atmospheric research. According to a report by the Space Frontier Foundation released in 2006, the "space economy" is estimated to be worth about $180 billion, with more than 60% of space-related economic activity coming from commercial goods and services.[2] China and India propose the initiation of a commercial launch service.

China

China has a space program with an independent human spaceflight capability. It has developed a sizable family of successful Long March rockets. It has launched two lunar orbiters, Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2. On 2 December 2013, China launched a modified Long March 3B rocket, with Chang'e 3 Moon lander and its rover Yutu on-board toward the Moon and successfully performed soft landing and rover operations, becoming the third country to do so.[29] It also has plans to retrieve samples by late 2017. In 2011, China embarked on a program to establish a manned space station, starting with the launch of Tiangong 1 and followed by Tiangong 2 in 2016. China attempted to send a Mars orbiter (Yinghuo-1) in 2011 on a joint mission with Russia, which failed to leave Earth orbit. Nevertheless, the 2020 Chinese Mars Mission with an orbiter, a lander and a rover has been approved by the government and is aiming a launch date in the year 2020.[30] China has collaborative projects with Russia, ESA, and Brazil, and has launched commercial satellites for other countries. Some analysts suggest that the Chinese space program is linked to the nation's efforts at developing advanced military technology.[31]

China's advanced technology is the result of the integration of various related technological experiences. Early Chinese satellites, such as the FSW series, have undergone many atmospheric reentry tests. In the 1990s China had commercial launches, resulting in more launch experiences and a high success rate after the 1990s. China has aimed to undertake scientific development in fields like Solar System exploration. China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft successfully performed an EVA in September 2008. China's Shenzhou 9 spacecraft successfully performed a manned docking in June 2012. Furthermore, China's Chang'e 2 explorer became the first object to reach Sun-Earth Lagrangian point in August 2011 and also the first probe to explore both Moon and asteroid by making a flyby of the asteroid 4179 Toutatis. China has launched DAMPE, the most capable dark matter explorer to date in 2015, and world's first quantum communication satellite QUESS in 2016.

India

India's interest in space travel began in the early 1960s, when scientists launched a Nike-Apache rocket from TERLS, Kerala.[32][33] Under Vikram Sarabhai, the program focused on the practical uses of space in increasing the standard of living. Remote sensing and communications satellites were placed into orbit.[34]

The first Indian to travel in space was Rakesh Sharma, who flew aboard Soyuz T-11, launched April 2, 1984, from erstwhile USSR.[35]

Just a few days after China said that it would send a human into orbit in the second half of 2003, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee publicly urged his country's scientists to work towards sending a man to the Moon.[36] India successfully sent its first probe to the Moon known as Chandrayaan-1 in October 2008 which helped in finding the presence of water in the Moon [37] and has already launched its second Moon mission, Chandrayaan-2 to the south pole of the Moon.[38][39]

ISRO launched its Mars Orbiter Mission on November 5, 2013 (informally called "Mangalyaan") which successfully entered into the orbit around Mars on 24 September 2014. India is the first in Asia and fourth in the world to perform a successful Mars mission. It is also the only one to do so on the first attempt and at a record low cost of $74 million.[40]

ISRO has demonstrated its re-entry technology and till date has launched as many as 175 foreign satellites belonging to global customers from 20 countries including US, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, U.K. All of these have been launched successfully by PSLVs so far, gaining significant expertise in space technologies. In June 2016, India set a record by launching 20 satellites simultaneously.[41] The PSLVs are also one of world's most reliable launch vehicles which clocked its 35th successful mission (39 total) in a row as of February 2017, thus having success rate of nearly 90%.

India broke the world record by successfully placing 104 satellites (almost tripling the Russian record of 37) in Earth Orbit on 15 February 2017 on a single rocket launch (PSLV-C37).[42][43]

Recent reports indicate that human spaceflight is planned with a spacecraft called Gaganyaan for December 2021 on a home-grown GSLV-III rocket.[44] ISRO is also planning to send orbiters to Venus, Mars and Jupiter or comets and asteroids in the near future. India has successfully tested anti-satellite missile, becoming the fourth country to do so.

Japan

Japan has been cooperating with the United States on missile defence since 1999. North Korean nuclear and Chinese military programs represent a serious issue for Japan's foreign relations.[45] Japan is working on military and civilian space technologies, developing missile defence systems, new generations of military spy satellites, and planning for manned stations on the Moon.[46] Japan started to construct spy satellites after North Korea test fired a Taepodong missile over Japan in 1998. The North Korean government claimed the missile was merely launching a satellite to space, and accused Japan of causing an arms race.[47] The Japanese constitution adopted after World War II limits military activities to defensive operations. On May 2007 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a bold review of the Japanese Constitution to allow the country to take a larger role in global security and foster a revival of national pride.[48] Japan has not yet developed its own manned spacecraft and does not have a program in place to develop one. The Japanese space shuttle HOPE-X, to be launched by the conventional space launcher H-II, was developed but the program was postponed and eventually cancelled. Then the simpler manned capsule Fuji was proposed but not adopted. Pioneer projects of single-stage to orbit, reusable launch vehicle horizontal takeoff and landing ASSTS and vertical takeoff and landing Kankoh-maru were developed but have not been adopted. A more conservative new (JAXA manned spacecraft) project is proposed to launch by 2025 as part of the Japanese plan to send manned missions to the Moon. Shin'ya Matsuura is doubtful about the Japanese manned Moon project, and suspects the project is a euphemism for participation in the American Constellation program.[49] JAXA planned to send a humanoid robot (such as ASIMO) to the Moon.[49]

Other players

Iran

Iran has developed its own satellite launch vehicle, named the Safir SLV, based on the Shahab series of IRBMs. On 2 February 2009, Iranian state television reported that Iran's first domestically made satellite Omid (from the Persian امید, meaning "Hope") had been successfully launched into low Earth orbit by a version of Iran's Safir rocket, the Safir-2.[50] The launch coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. Iran is also developing a new launch vehicle Simorgh (rocket).

Israel

Israel became the tenth country in the world to build its own satellite and launch it with its own launcher on 19 September 1988. Israel launched its first satellite, Ofeq-1, using an Israeli-built Shavit three-stage launch vehicle.[51] The launching was the high point of a process that began in 1983 with the establishment of the Israel Space Agency under the aegis of the Ministry of Science. Space research by university-based scientists began in the 1960s, providing a ready-made pool of experts for Israel's foray into space. Since then, local universities, research institutes, and private industry, backed by the Israel Space Agency, have made progress in space technology. The agency's role is to support "private and academic space projects, coordinate their efforts, initiate and develop international relations and projects, head integrative projects involving different bodies, and create public awareness for the importance of space development."[52]

North Korea

North Korea has many years of experience with rocket technology, which it has passed along to Pakistan and other countries. On December 12, 2012, North Korea placed its first satellite in orbit with the launch of Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2. On 12 March 2009 North Korea signed the Outer Space Treaty and the Registration Convention,[53] after a previous declaration of preparations for the launch of Kwangmyongsong-2. North Korea twice announced satellite launches: Kwangmyŏngsŏng-1 on 31 August 1998 and Kwangmyŏngsŏng-2 on 5 April 2009. Neither of these claims were confirmed by the rest of the world, but the United States and South Korea believe there were tests of military ballistic missiles. The North Korean space agency is the Korean Committee of Space Technology, which operates the Musudan-ri and Tongch'ang-dong Space Launch Center rocket launching sites and has developed the Baekdusan-1 and Unha (Baekdusan-2) space launchers and Kwangmyŏngsŏng satellites. In 2009 North Korea announced several future space projects, including manned space flights and the development of a manned partially reusable launch vehicle.[54] The successor to the Korean Committee of Space Technology, National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) successfully launched an Unha-3 launch vehicle in February 2016, placing the Kwangmyŏngsŏng-4 satellite in orbit.

Indonesia

LAPAN is responsible for long-term civilian and military aerospace research Indonesia. On July 1976, Indonesia became the first developing country to operate its own domestic satellite system.[55] On October 1985, Indonesian scientist, Pratiwi Sudarmono was selected to take part in the NASA Space Shuttle missions STS-61-H as a Payload Specialist. Taufik Akbar was her backup on the mission. However, after the Challenger disaster the deployment of commercial satellites like the Indonesian Palapa B-3 planned for the STS-61-H mission was canceled, thus the mission never took place. The satellite was later launched with a Delta rocket.[56] For over two decades, Indonesia has managed satellites and domain-developed small scientific-technology satellites LAPAN and telecommunication satellites Palapa, which were built by Hughes (now Boeing Satellite Systems) and launched from the US on Delta rockets or from French Guiana using Ariane 4 and Ariane 5 rockets. It has also developed sounding rockets and has been trying to develop small orbital space launchers. The LAPAN A1 in 2007 and LAPAN A2 satellites were launched by India in 2015.[57] Indonesia has undertaken programs to develop and use their own small space launch vehicle Pengorbitan (RPS-420).[58][59]

South Korea

South Korea is a newer player in the Asian space race.[60] In August 2006 South Korea launched its first military communications satellite, the Mugunghwa-5. The satellite was placed in geosynchronous orbit and collects surveillance information about North Korea.[61] The South Korean government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in space technology and was due to launch its first space launcher, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle, in 2008.[62] South Korea's government justifies the cost for reasons of long-term commercial benefits and national pride. South Korea has long seen North Korea's significantly longer missile range as a serious threat to its national security. With the nation's first astronaut launched into space, Lee So-yeon, South Korea gained confidence in entering the Asian space race. They have completed the construction of Naro Space Center. South Korea is now attempting to build satellites and rockets with local technology.[63] South Korea is pursuing a space program that could defend the peninsula while lessening their dependency on the United States.

Turkey

As of 2012 Turkey was developing its own military satellite. The first Göktürk satellite is planned to be launched in 2013. The Turkish satellite is planned to be capable of taking satellite images of greater than two meters per pixel resolution, thus making Turkey the second nation in the world capable of such a feat, after the United States.[64] Turkey is also developing an orbital launch system known as UFS.[65]

Other nations and regions

Other minor spacefaring countries are Bangladesh, Malaysia and Pakistan. On 7 June 1962, with the launch of the Rehbar-I rocket, Pakistan became the tenth country in the world to successfully conduct the launch of an unmanned spacecraft. SUPARCO has launched a number of sounding rockets. Pakistan's first satellite, Badr-I was launched from China in 1990, Badr-B in 2001 from Baikonur Cosmodrome using a Ukrainian Zenit-2 rocket, followed by Paksat-1R in 2011 which was contracted and actually built and launched by China, was Pakistan's first communication satellite.[66] Under its Space programme 2040, Pakistan aims to operate five geostationary and six low earth orbit satellites. Development of any satellite launch vehicle is not planned.

With the launch of Bangabandhu-1 satellite purchased abroad, Bangladesh began operating its first communication satellite in 2018. Bangladesh Space Agency intends to launch satellites after 2020. Bangladesh's government has stressed that the country seeks an "entirely peaceful and commercial" role in space.[67]

Timeline of national firsts

     – Indigenous manned missions          – Manned missions      – Lunar or Interplanetary missions      – Other missions
Date Nation Name Asian First World achievements
4 October 1957  Soviet Union
(now under  Kazakhstan)
Baikonur Cosmodrome Satellite launch pad The first satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched.
11 February 1970  JapanOhsumi Satellite The smallest satellite launch vehicle (L-4S; 9.4t weight, 1.4m diameter)
24 February 1975  Japan Taiyo Solar probe
26 October 1975  China FSW-0 Satellite recovery[68]
26 October 1975  China FSW-0:
– 10m (1975)
FSW-1B:
– 4m (1992)[69]
Beidou:
– 0.5m (till 2007)[70]
High resolution imaging satellite
8 July 1976  Indonesia Palapa A1 Geosynchronous satellite (launched by NASA)
23 February 1977  Japan N-I Geosynchronous launch
21 February 1979  Japan Hakucho Space observatory
23 July 1980  Vietnam Phạm Tuân Asian in space (Soyuz 37)
20 September 1981  China FB-1 Simultaneous satellite launch[71]
8 January 1985  Japan Sakigake Leaving Earth orbit The first interplanetary launch by solid rocket (M-3SII)
19 March 1990  Japan Hagoromo Reach lunar orbit (assumed)
7 April 1990  China CZ-3 Commercial launch (AsiaSat 1)
10 April 1993  Japan Hiten Intentional lunar impact The first aerobraking test[72]
8 July 1994  Japan Chiaki Mukai Asian woman in space (STS-65)
19 November 1997  Japan Takao Doi Spacework (STS-87)
28 November 1997  Japan ETS-VII Rendezvous docking
3 July 1998  Japan Nozomi Martian mission (Failure)
30 October 2000  China Beidou Satellite navigation system
10 September 2002  Japan Kodama[73] Data relay satellite (with ESA)
15 October 2003  China Yang Liwei First man in space launched by an Asian space program
15 October 2003  China Shenzhou 5 Manned spacecraft
19 November 2005  Japan Hayabusa Soft-landed probe on extraterrestrial object The first asteroid ascent, sample return from an asteroid
11 January 2007  China FY-1C ASAT test Highest in history with altitude 865 km, also the fastest with speed 18k miles
23 February 2008  Japan WINDS Internet satellite The fastest internet satellite[74]
11 March 2008  Japan Japanese Experiment Module Manned foundations in space (STS-123, STS-124, STS-127) The world's largest pressurized volume in space[75]
25 April 2008  China Tianlian I Indigenous Tracking & Data Relay Satellite System
First TDRS system to support manned missions
27 September 2008  China Zhai Zhigang (Shenzhou 7) Indigenous EVA
27 September 2008  China BanXing Manned spacecraft-launched satellite
14 November 2008  India Moon Impact Probe Probe designed for Lunar impact Discovered water on the Moon before impact.[76][77]
23 January 2009  Japan GOSAT Greenhouse gas explorer[78]
20 May 2010  Japan Akatsuki First Asian Venus mission
21 May 2010  Japan IKAROS Solar sail The first spacecraft to successfully demonstrate solar-sail technology in interplanetary space
25 August 2011  China Chang'e 2 Lunar probe with extended deep space missions (asteroid mission to 4179 Toutatis).
29 September 2011  China Tiangong-1 First Asian Space station
18 June 2012  China Shenzhou 9 First manned space docking by an Asian country (with Tiangong-1)
14 December 2013  China Chang'e 3/Yutu First lunar soft landing and lunar rover by an Asian country.
24 September 2014  India Mars Orbiter Mission First successful Mars mission by an Asian country First Martian mission by a country to succeed on the first attempt. Third country to do so after the USSR and the USA.
15 February 2017  India PSLV-C37 First to successfully launch and deploy 104 satellites simultaneously from a single rocket (PSLV -C37).[79][80] First country in the world to launch more than 100 satellites at one go.
3 January 2019  China Chang'e 4 First soft landing on the far side of the Moon First soft landing on the far side of the Moon by any country. Landed with Yutu-2 rover.

Other achievements

Timeline of the heaviest satellite launch vehicle in Asia
First successLEOGTO / GEONotes
11 Feb 1970 L-4S (26 kg)First launch was 1966 (failed 4 times).
24 Apr 1970 CZ-1 (0.3 t)First launch failed in 1969.
26 Jul 1975 FB-1 (2.5 t)Suborbital flight was performed in 1972.
CZ-2A (LEO 2t) failed in 1974.
16 Jul 1990 CZ-2E (LEO 9.2 t / GTO 3.5 t)
20 Aug 1997 CZ-3B (LEO 12 t / GTO 5.2 t)
18 Dec 2006 H-IIA204 (LEO 15 t / GTO 5.8 t)
10 Sep 2009 H-IIB (LEO 19 t / GTO 8 t)
3 Nov 2016 H-IIB (LEO 19 t) CZ-5 (GTO 14 t)[81]

Comparison of key technologies

Records of each country are listed by chronological order unless otherwise noted.

Launch vehicle technology

First successful independent launches (rocket/satellite)
Country Year Mission
 Japan 1970 Lambda-4S/Ohsumi
 China 1970 Long March 1/Dong Fang Hong I
 India 1980 SLV/Rohini D1
 Israel 1988 Shavit/Ofeq 1
 Iran 2009 Safir-1/Omid
 North Korea 2012 Unha-3/Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2
Solid fuel rockets
Country Rocket Burn time Specific impulse (Vac.) Thrust (Vac.)
 India S200 booster rocket stage[82] 130s 274.5s 5,150 kN (1,160,000 lbf)
 Japan SRB-A series solid fueled rocket boosters 100s 280s 2,260 kN (510,000 lbf)
 Israel Shavit's first stage 82s 280s 1,650 kN (370,000 lbf)
 China Kuaizhou series of launch vehicles
 China Long March 11 launch system
Cryogenic and semi-cryogenic rocket engines
Country Engine Thrust (vac.) Stage Cycle Active Status
 Japan LE-5 cryogenic engine LE-5 — 102.9 kN (23,100 lbf)
----------
LE-5A — 121.5 kN (27,300 lbf)
----------
LE-5B — 144.9 kN (32,600 lbf)
Upper stage 5 — Gas generator
5A and 5B — Expander
1986 — present In service
LE-7 cryogenic engine LE-7 — 1,078 kN (242,000 lbf)
----------
LE-7A — 1,074 kN (241,000 lbf)
Booster Staged combustion 1994 — present In service
 China YF-73 cryogenic engine 44.15 kN (9,930 lbf) Upper stage Gas generator 1987-2000 Retired
YF-75 cryogenic engine 78.45 kN (17,640 lbf) Upper stage Gas generator 1994 — present In service
YF-75D cryogenic engine 88.26 kN (19,840 lbf) Upper stage Expander 2016 — present In service
YF-77 cryogenic engine 700 kN (160,000 lbf) Booster Gas generator 2016 — present In service
 India CE-7.5 cryogenic engine 73.5 kN (16,500 lbf) Upper stage Staged combustion 2014 — present In service
CE-20 cryogenic engine 200 kN (45,000 lbf) Upper stage Gas-generator 2017 — present In service
SCE-200 semi-cryogenic engine 2,030 kN (460,000 lbf) Booster Staged combustion After 2022 Under development
Capability of Launch Vehicle (in active)
Country Highest payload capacity
LEO GTO
Launch Vehicle Payload capacity Active since Launch Vehicle Payload capacity Active since
 China CZ-5 25,000 kg (55,000 lb) 2016 CZ-5 14,000 kg (31,000 lb) 2016
 Japan H-IIB 16,500 kg (36,400 lb) 2009 H-IIB 8,000 kg (18,000 lb) 2009
 India GSLV MkIII 10,000 kg (22,000 lb) 2017 GSLV MkIII 4,000 kg (8,800 lb) 2017
 Israel Shavit 800 kg (1,800 lb) 1988 Not any yet
 North Korea Unha-3 200 kg (440 lb) 2009 Not any yet
 Iran Safir-1B 50 kg (110 lb) 2008 Not any yet
Biggest multi-satellite simultaneous launches (by number)
Country Number of satellites Year Launch Vehicle Flight
 India 104 2017 PSLV-XL C37
 China 20 2015 Long March 6 1
 Japan 8 2009 H-IIA F15
First flight of space shuttles
Including shuttle-shaped hypersonic reentry vehicles reach to space.
Country Spaceplane First flight mission Year Program status
 Japan HOPE-X HYFLEX 1996 Cancelled
 China Various Shenlong 2007 Under development
 India Indian reusable launch system Hypersonic Flight Experiment 2016 Under development
AVATAR Under development

Satellite technology

Payloads in orbit by number
First five as of November 30, 2019[83]
Country Active In orbit Decayed Total
 China 340 395 84 479
 Japan 90 181 65 246
 India 63 99 12 111
 Israel 16 19 6 25
 South Korea 15 22 5 27
Optical satellite imagery (by highest available resolution)
Country Resolution Satellite Year launched
 India 0.25 meter Cartosat-3 2019
 Japan 0.4 meter IGS Optical 5V 2013
 Israel 0.5 meter Ofeq 9 2010
 China 0.5 meter Gaofen 9 2015
 South Korea 0.7 meter KOMPSAT-3 2012
 Iran 150 meters Rasad 1 2011
Radar satellite imagery (by resolution)
Country Resolution Satellite Year launched
 India 0.35 meter RISAT-2BR1 2019
0.5 meter x 0.3 meter RISAT-2B 2019
 Japan 0.5 meter IGS R-5 2017
 Israel 0.5 TecSAR 2008
 China 0.5 meter Yaogan 29 2015
 South Korea 1 meter KOMPSat-5 2013
Communications satellite technology
Country Satellite Transponders Mass Power Year launched
 China NIGCOMSAT 1R 28 5,150 kg (11,350 lb) 10.5 kW 2011
 Japan ST-2 51 5,090 kg (11,220 lb) 2011
 India GSAT-16 48 3,100 kg (6,800 lb) 5.6 kW 2014
GSAT-11 40 5,854 kg (12,906 lb) 13.6 kW 2018
Solar Sail spacecraft
Country Satellite Type Year launched
 Japan IKAROS Extraterrestrial exploration 2010
Spacecraft powered by indigenous plasma thrusters
Country Spacecraft (engine) Power Thrust Specific impulse Year
 Japan ETS-IV (Unnamed teflon pulsed plasma thruster) 20 W 300s 1981
Space Flyer Unit (EPEX, magnetoplasmadynamic thruster) 430 W 12.9 mN 600s 1995
 China Dongfeng 5 ballistic rocket (MDT-2A, teflon pulsed plasma thruster) 5 W 280s 1981
Spacecraft powered by indigenous ion thrusters
Country Spacecraft Power Thrust Specific impulse Year launched
 Japan Hayabusa (μ-10, microwave ion thrusters) 350 W 8 mN 3200s 2003
 China Shijian 9A (LIPS-200, ring-cusp magnetic field ion thruster) 1 kW 40 mN 3000s 2012
 India GSAT-9 (Xenon based ion thruster, partial) 3.5 kW 72 mN 2017
GSAT-20 (Full) 2020 (Planned)
Spacecraft powered by indigenous Hall thrusters
Country Spacecraft Power Thrust Specific impulse Year launched
 South Korea DubaiSat-2 0.3 kW 7 mN 1000s 2013
 China Shijian 17 (HEP-100MF, magnetic focusing hall thruster) 1.4 kW 1850s 2016
Shijian 17 (LHT-100) 1.35 kW 80 mN 1600s

Manned spaceflight and rendezvous space docking and berthing capabilities

First indigenous manned spaceflights
Country Program First successful human spaceflight Status
Name Period Year Spacecraft
 China Project 714 1968-72 N/A Shuguang-1 Cancelled
Project 873 1978-80 N/A Piloted FSW satellite Cancelled
Shenzhou 1992-present 2003 Shenzhou 5 Ongoing
 India Indian Human Spaceflight Programme 2007-present 2021 (Planned)
Before August 2022 (Scheduled)
Gaganyaan Ongoing
 Iran Iranian manned spaceship project 2015-17 TBD Class E Kavoshgar On hold
Independent human spaceflights
Country Total persons Total flights
 China[84] 10 12
First independent extravehicular activity
Country Spacecraft involved Year
 China Shenzhou 7 2008
First independent Space rendezvous
Country Unamanned rendezvous Manned rendezvous
Spacecraft involved Year Spacecraft involved Year
 China Shenzhou 8 & Tiangong 1 2011 Shenzhou 9 & Tiangong 1 2012
 India SPADEX 2020 (Planned)
First space habitation module
Country Spacecraft Year launched
 Japan Kibo 2008
 China Tiangong 1 2011
 India[85][86][87][88] Indian Space Station ~2030 (Proposed)
First Space laboratory
Country Spacecraft Year
 Japan Kibo 2009
 China Tiangong 2 2016
Resupply spacecraft
Country Spacecraft Launch payload Year launched
 Japan HTV 6,000 kg (13,000 lb) 2009
 China Tianzhou 6,500 kg (14,300 lb) 2017

Lunar exploration

First orbiters to the Moon
No. Country Spacecraft Year
1  Japan Hiten/Hagoromo 1990
2  China Chang'e 1 2007
3  India Chandrayaan-1 2008
TBD  South Korea Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter 2020 (Planned)
First intentional Moon landings
No. Country Spacecraft Year Landing type
1  Japan Hiten 1993 Controlled impact
2  India Moon Impact Probe 2008 Controlled impact
3  China Chang'e 1 2009 Controlled impact
First Lunar soft landings/Lunar rovers
No. Country Spacecraft Year
1  China Chang'e 3/Yutu 2013
TBD  Israel Beresheet 2019 (Failed)
TBD  India Chandrayaan-2/Pragyan 2019 (Failed)
Chandrayaan-3 2020 (Planned)
TBD  India
 Japan
Lunar Polar Exploration Mission 2024 (Planned)

Interplanetary exploration missions

First probes to Mercury
No. Country Spacecraft Year Type
TBD  Japan Mercury Magentospheric Orbiter 2018 (en-route) Orbiter
First probes to Venus
No. Country Spacecraft Year Type
1  Japan Akatsuki (spacecraft) 2015 Orbiter
TBD  India Shukrayaan-1 2023 (Planned) Orbiter with aerobots
First orbiters to Mars
No. Country Spacecraft Year
1  India Mars Orbiter Mission 2013[89]
TBD  Japan Nozomi 1998 (Failed)
Mars Terahertz Microsatellite 2020 (Planned)
TBD  China Yinghuo-1 2011 (Failed)[90]
Mars Global Remote Sensing Orbiter and Small Rover 2020 (Planned)
TBD  United Arab Emirates Hope Mars Mission 2020 (Planned)
First intentional Mars landing
No. Country Spacecraft Year Landing type
TBD  China Mars Global Remote Sensing Orbiter and Small Rover 2020 (Planned) Soft landing
TBD  India Mars Orbiter Mission 2 2024 (Planned)[91] Soft landing
First probes to Jupiter
No. Country Spacecraft Year Type
TBD  India Indian mission to Jupiter 2020s (Proposed) Orbiter
First Asteroid explorations
No. Country Spacecraft Year Type
1  Japan Hayabusa 2003 Sample return
2  China Chang'e 2 2012 Flyby
First missions to explore beyond Solar system
No. Country Spacecraft Year
TBD  India Mission to Exoworlds ~2025[92][93]
Other comparable technologies
NationMulti-satellite simultaneous launchesLaunch of foreign satelliteGeostationary launchesAtmos-
pheric reentry
Rendezvous dockings in orbitSatellite navigation systemData relay satellitesMartian missionsSolar Space MissionsSpace observatories
 China 1981
(FB-1)[94]
3 Sats
1990
CZ-2E
science satellite
1984
Dong Fang Hong 02
(by CZ-3)
1975
FSW-0
2011
Tiangong 1
2000
Beidou
2008
Tianlian I
2011
Yinghuo-1
(Failure)
(planned)
Solar Space Telescope
2017
Space Hard X-Ray Modulation Telescope
 India 1999
(PSLV-CA C2)

3 Sats

1999
PSLV-C2
Kitsat-3
DLR-Tubsat
2001
GSAT
(by GSLV)
2007
SRE-1
planned2013
IRNSS[95]
2002
Kalpana-1[96]
2013
Mangalyaan[89]
(orbiter)
2021 (planned)
Aditya-L1
2015
Astrosat
 Japan 1986
(H-I H15F)[97]
3 Sats
2002
H-IIA
FedSat
1977
ETS-II[98]
(by N-I)
1994
OREX
1997
ETS-VII[99]
2010
QZSS[100]
2002
Kodama
1998
Nozomi
(orbiter) (Failure)
1975
Taiyo[101]
1979
Hakucho

? : Date is assumed
Only projects with under-development or above status have been listed

Asian orbital launch systems

Orbital launch systems from Asian national space agencies

The list documents launch systems developed or used by national space agencies only and not private spaceflight companies.

Legend
  Under development
  Operational
  Retired/Cancelled
Launch system Country of origin Class and type Payload capacity Maiden flight Manufacturer Status Ref
LEO (Orbit) GTO Other
Al-Abid  Iraq Small lift expendable launch vehicle 100 kg (220 lb) to 300 kg (660 lb) (200 km (120 mi) to 500 km (310 mi) N/A 1989 Space Research Center, Baghdad Abandoned [102]
Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle  India Small lift expendable launch vehicle 150 kg (330 lb) (400 km (250 mi)) N/A 1987 ISRO Retired [103]
Epsilon  Japan Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) (250 km (160 mi)x500 km (310 mi))
700 kg (1,500 lb) (500 km (310 mi))
590 kg (1,300 lb) to 500 km (310 mi) (SSO) 2013 JAXA In service [104]
Feng Bao 1  China Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 2,500 kg (5,500 lb) 1972 Shanghai Bureau №2 Retired [105]
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk I  India Medium lift expendable launch vehicle   5,000 kg (11,000 lb) 2,150 kg (4,740 lb) 2001 ISRO Retired [106]
GSLV Mk II 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) 2,700 kg (6,000 lb) 2010 ISRO In service
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III  India Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 10,000 kg (22,000 lb) 4,000 kg (8,800 lb) 2014 (Suborbital)
2017 (Orbital)
ISRO In service [107]
GX  Japan
 United States
Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 3,600 kg (7,900 lb) 1,814 kg (3,999 lb) to 800 km (500 mi) SSO N/A JAXA/ULA/IHI Cancelled [108]
H-I  Japan Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 3,200 kg (7,100 lb) 1,100 kg (2,400 lb) 1986 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Retired [109]
H-II H-II  Japan Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 10,060 kg (22,180 lb) 3,930 kg (8,660 lb) 1994 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Retired [110]
H-IIA 10,000 kg (22,000 lb) to 15,000 kg (33,000 lb) 4,100 kg (9,000 lb) to 6,000 kg (13,000 lb) 2001 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries/ATK In service [111]
H-IIB 16,500 kg (36,400 lb) 8,000 kg (18,000 lb) 2009 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries In service [112]
H3  Japan Medium lift expendable launch vehicle >8,000 kg (18,000 lb) >4,000 kg (8,800 lb) to SSO (Minimum configuration) 2020 (Planned) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Under development [113]
J-I  Japan Experimental expendable launch vehicle - - 1,054 kg (2,324 lb) along 1,300 km (810 mi) downrange. 1996 NASDA/ISAS Retired [114]
Jielong-1  China Small lift expendable launch vehicle N/A 150 kg (330 lb) to 700 km (430 mi) (SSO) 2019 CALT In service [115]
Kaituozhe Kaituozhe-1  China Small lift expendable launch vehicle 100 kg (220 lb) Not applicable 2002 CASC Retired [116]
Kaituozhe-2 Small lift expendable launch vehicle 800 kg (1,800 lb) 2017 In service [117]
Kaituozhe-2A Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 2,000 km (1,200 mi) Unconfirmed Unknown
Kuaizhou Kuaizhou 1  China Small lift expendable launch vehicle N/A 430 kg (950 lb) to 500 km (310 mi) (SSO) 2013 CASC In service [118][119]
Kuaizhou-1A Small lift expendable launch vehicle 300 kg (660 lb) N/A 250 kg (550 lb) to 500 km (310 mi) (SSO)
200 kg (440 lb) to 700 km (430 mi) (SSO)
2017 In service
Kuaizhou-11 Small lift expendable launch vehicle 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) to 700 km (430 mi) (SSO) 2019-20 (Planned) Under development [120]
Kuaizhou-21 Heavy lift expendable launch vehicle 20,000 kg (44,000 lb) 2025 (Projected) Under development [118][121]
Kuaizhou-31 Super heavy lift expendable launch vehicle 70,000 kg (150,000 lb) TBD Under development
Lambda (rocket family)  Japan Small lift expendable launch vehicle 26 kg (57 lb) 1970 ISAS/Nissan Retired [122]
Long March 1 rocket family Long March 1  China Small lift expendable launch vehicle 300 kg (660 lb) N/A 1970 MAI/CASC/CAST Retired [123]
Long March 1D Small lift expendable launch vehicle 930 kg (2,050 lb) N/A 1995 CALT Retired [124]
Long March 2 Long March 2A  China Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) 1974 CALT Retired [125]
Long March 2C Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 3,850 kg (8,490 lb) 1,250 kg (2,760 lb) 1,900 kg (4,200 lb) to SSO 1982 In service
Long March 2D Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 3,500 kg (7,700 lb) 1,300 kg (2,900 lb) to SSO 1992 In service
Long March 2E Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 9,500 kg (20,900 lb) 3,500 kg (7,700 lb) 1990 In service
Long March 2F Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 8,400 kg (18,500 lb) 1990 In service
Long March 3 Long March 3  China Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) 1984 CALT Retired [126]
Long March 3A Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 8,500 kg (18,700 lb) 2,600 kg (5,700 lb) 1,600 kg (3,500 lb) to HCO 1993 In service
Long March 3B, 3B/E Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 11,500 kg (25,400 lb) 5,100 kg (11,200 lb) 3,300 kg (7,300 lb) to HCO
2,000 kg (4,400 lb) to GEO
1996 In service
Long March 3C, 3C/E Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 3,900 kg (8,600 lb) 2,400 kg (5,300 lb) to HCO 2008 In service
Long March 4 Long March 4A  China Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 4,000 kg (8,800 lb) 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) to Sun-synchronous orbit 1988 CALT Retired [127]
Long March 4B Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 4,200 kg (9,300 lb) 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) 2,800 kg (6,200 lb) to SSO 1999 In service
Long March 4C Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 4,200 kg (9,300 lb) 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) 2,800 kg (6,200 lb) to SSO 2006 In service
Long March 5  China Heavy lift expendable launch vehicle 25,000 kg (55,000 lb) (200 km (120 mi) x 400 km (250 mi)) 14,000 kg (31,000 lb) 8,200 kg (18,100 lb) to TLI 2016 CALT Under development [128]
Long March 6  China Small lift expendable launch vehicle N/A 1,080 kg (2,380 lb) to 700 km (430 mi) (SSO) 2015 CALT In service [129]
Long March 7  China Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 13,500 kg (29,800 lb) (200 km (120 mi) x 400 km (250 mi)) 5,500 kg (12,100 lb) 2016 CALT In service [130]
Long March 11  China Small lift expendable launch vehicle 700 kg (1,500 lb) 350 kg (770 lb) to 700 km (430 mi) (Sun-synchronous orbit) 2015 CALT In service [131]
Mu (rocket family) Mu-3C  Japan Small lift expendable launch vehicle 195 kg (430 lb) 1974 ISAS/Nissan/IHI Retired [132]
Mu-3H Small lift expendable launch vehicle 300 kg (660 lb) 1977 Retired
Mu-3S Small lift expendable launch vehicle 300 kg (660 lb) 1980 Retired
Mu-3SII Small lift expendable launch vehicle 770 kg (1,700 lb) 1985 Retired
Mu-4S Small lift expendable launch vehicle 180 kg (400 lb) 1971 Retired
M-V Small lift expendable launch vehicle 1,850 kg (4,080 lb) 1,300 kg (2,900 lb) to Polar LEO 1997 Retired
N (rocket family) N-I  United States
 Japan
Small lift expendable launch vehicle 1,200 kg (2,600 lb) 360 kg (790 lb) 1975 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Retired [133]
N-II Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) 730 kg (1,610 lb) 1981 Retired [134]
Paektusan-1  North Korea Small lift expendable launch vehicle 700 kg (1,500 lb) 1998 KCST Retired [135]
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-G  India Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 3,200 kg (7,100 lb) 1,050 kg (2,310 lb) 1,600 kg (3,500 lb) to SSO 1993 ISRO Retired [136]
PSLV-CA Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) 1,100 kg (2,400 lb) to SSO 2007 In service
PSLV-XL Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 3,800 kg (8,400 lb) 1,300 kg (2,900 lb) 1,750 kg (3,860 lb) to SSO
1,350 kg (2,980 lb) to TMI
2008 In service
PSLV-DL Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) 1,100 kg (2,400 lb) to SSO 2019 In service
PSLV-QL Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 3,800 kg (8,400 lb) 1,300 kg (2,900 lb) 1,750 kg (3,860 lb) to SSO
1,350 kg (2,980 lb) to TMI
2019 In service
PSLV-3S Small lift expendable launch vehicle 500 kg (1,100 lb) (550 km (340 mi) N/A Concept only
Qonoos  Iran Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 3,500 kg (7,700 lb) 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) 2025 (Projected) ISA Under development
Reusable Launch Vehicle  India TSTO Reusable launch system 2016 (Flight experiment) ISRO Under development [137]
RPS-420 Pengorbitan-1  Indonesia Small lift expendable launch vehicle 25 kg (55 lb) N/A TBD LAPAN Proposed [138]
Pengorbitan-2 Small lift expendable launch vehicle 50 kg (110 lb) N/A TBD Proposed
S-Series (rocket family) SS-520  Japan Small lift expendable launch vehicle 100 kg (220 lb) (>300 km (190 mi) N/A 1980 IHI Corporation In service [139]
Safir  Iran Small lift expendable launch vehicle 65 kg (143 lb) N/A 2008 ISA In service [140]
Satellite Launch Vehicle  India Small lift expendable launch vehicle 40 kg (88 lb) (400 km (250 mi) N/A 1979 ISRO Retired [141]
Shavit  Israel Small lift expendable launch vehicle 800 kg (1,800 lb) N/A 1988 Israel Aerospace Industries In service [142]
Simorgh  Iran Small lift expendable launch vehicle 350 kg (770 lb) N/A 2016 (Sub-orbital) ISA Under development [143]
Small Satellite Launch Vehicle  India Small lift expendable launch vehicle 500 kg (1,100 lb) (500 km (310 mi)) N/A 300 kg (660 lb) 2020 (Planned) ISRO Under development [144]
TSLV  Republic of China Small lift expendable launch vehicle 50 kg (110 lb) (700 km (430 mi)) N/A TBD NSPO Under development [145][146]
Unha  North Korea Small lift expendable launch vehicle 200 kg (440 lb) (465 km (289 mi) x 502 km (312 mi)) N/A 2009 KCST In service [147]
Unified Modular Launch Vehicle ULV with 6 x S-13 boosters  India Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 4,500 kg (9,900 lb) 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) No earlier than 2022 ISRO Under development [91][148][149]
ULV with 2 x S-60 boosters Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 10,000 kg (22,000 lb) 3,000 kg (6,600 lb) No earlier than 2022 Under development
ULV with 2 x S-139 boosters Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 12,000 kg (26,000 lb) 4,500 kg (9,900 lb) No earlier than 2022 Under development
ULV with 2 x S-200 boosters Medium lift expendable launch vehicle 15,000 kg (33,000 lb) 6,000 kg (13,000 lb) No earlier than 2022 Under development
HLV variant Heavy lift expendable launch vehicle 20,000 kg (44,000 lb) 10,000 kg (22,000 lb) 2020s Under development
SHLV variant Super heavy lift expendable launch vehicle 41,300 kg (91,100 lb)-60,000 kg (130,000 lb) 16,300 kg (35,900 lb) 2020s Under development
Uydu Fırlatma Sistemi  Turkey Small lift expendable launch vehicle Microsatellites (700 km (430 mi)) N/A TBD ROKETSAN Under development [150]
Yun Feng SLV  Republic of China Small lift expendable launch vehicle 200 kg (440 lb) (500 km (310 mi) N/A TBD NCSIST Under development [146]

Orbital Launch Frequency

2001-10
2001[151]2002[152]2003[153]2004[154]2005[155]2006[156]2007[157]2008[158]2009[159]2010[160]Total
 China15785691161573
 Japan133-26213223
 India212111332319
 Israel-1-1--1--14
 Iran-------11-2
 South Korea--------112
 North Korea--------1-1
Total410121081315161422124
2011-18
2011[161]2012[162]2013[163]2014[164]2015[165]2016[166]2017[167]2018[168]Total
 China1919151619221839167
 India3245575738
 Japan3234447633
 Iran131-1-1-7
 North Korea-2---1--3
 Israel---1-1--2
 South Korea--1-----1
Total2628242629353152251

Human Spaceflight

Legend
  Successful programs
  Planned, defined, funded and scheduled
  Planned and proposed with no clear deadline or funding or on hold
  Abandoned or cancelled
Maiden manned spacefaring attempts by country
Country Program Agency engaged First orbital manned launch
Spacecraft Term(s) for space traveler First human(s) launched Date Launch system
 People's Republic of China Project 714 (1968-72) Chinese space program Shuguang-1 (Intended) 宇航员 (in Chinese)

yǔhángyuán 航天员 (in Chinese) hángtiānyuán

N/A N/A Long March 2A (Intended)
Project 863 (1978-81) Chinese space program Piloted FSW (Intended) N/A N/A Long March 2 (Intended)
 Ba'athist Iraq ... (1989-2001) Space Research Center, Baghdad N/A رجل فضاء (in Arabic)

rajul faḍāʼ رائد فضاء (in Arabic) rāʼid faḍāʼ ملاح فضائي (in Arabic) mallāḥ faḍāʼiy

N/A N/A Tammouz 2 or 3 (Intended)
 People's Republic of China Project 921 (1992-present) China National Space Administration Shenzhou 5 宇航员 (in Chinese)

yǔhángyuán 航天员 (in Chinese) hángtiānyuán taikonaut("太空人" tàikōng rén)

杨利伟 (Yang Liwei) 15 October 2003 Long March 2F
 Japan Late 1980s-2003 National Space Development Agency of Japan HOPE-X 宇宙飛行士 (in Japanese)

uchūhikōshi or アストロノート astoronoto

N/A N/A H-IIA (Intended)
 India Indian Human Spaceflight Programme (2007-present) Human Space Flight Centre (ISRO) Gaganyaan Vyomanaut/Gaganaut TBA December 2021 (Planned)
Before 15 August 2022 (Scheduled)
GSLV Mk III (Planned)
 Japan 2008-present Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency HTV-based spacecraft 宇宙飛行士 (in Japanese)

uchūhikōshi or アストロノート astoronoto

TBD TBD H-IIB (Planned)
 Iran Iranian manned space program (2005-2017, on hold) Iranian Space Agency Class E Kavoshgar spaceship TBD TBD TBD

China

Manned spacefairing attempts

China was first Asian country and third in the world after USSR and USA to send humans in space. As the Space Race between the two superpowers culminated to human landing on the Moon, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai decided on July 14, 1967 that the PRC should not be left behind, and therefore initiated China's own crewed space program. The top-secret Project 714 aimed to put two people into space by 1973 with the Shuguang spacecraft. Nineteen PLAAF pilots were selected for this goal on March 1971. The Shuguang-1 spacecraft to be launched with the CZ-2A rocket was designed to carry a crew of two. The program was officially cancelled on May 13, 1972 for economic reasons, though the internal politics of the Cultural Revolution likely motivated the closure.

The short-lived second crewed program was based on the successful implementation of landing technology (third in the World after USSR and United States) by FSW satellites. It was announced a few times in 1978 with the open publishing of some details including photos, but then was abruptly canceled in 1980. It has been argued that the second crewed program was created solely for propaganda purposes, and was never intended to produce results.[169]

In 1992 under project 921, authorization and funding was given for the first phase, which was a plan to launch a crewed spacecraft. The Shenzhou program had four uncrewed test flights and two crewed missions. The first one was Shenzhou 1 on November 20, 1999. On January 9, 2001 Shenzhou 2 launched carrying test animals. Shenzhou 3 and Shenzhou 4 were launched in 2002, carrying test dummies. Following these was the successful Shenzhou 5, China's first crewed mission in space on October 15, 2003, which carried Yang Liwei in orbit for 21 hours and made China the third nation to launch a human into orbit.

Further continual

The second phase of the Project 921 started with Shenzhou 7, China's first spacewalk mission. Then, two crewed missions were planned to the first Chinese space laboratory. The PRC initially designed the Shenzhou spacecraft with docking technologies imported from Russia, therefore compatible with the International Space Station (ISS). On September 29, 2011, China launched Tiangong 1. This target module is intended to be the first step to testing the technology required for a planned space station.

On October 31, 2011, a Long March 2F rocket lifted the Shenzhou 8 uncrewed spacecraft which docked twice with the Tiangong 1 module. The Shenzhou 9 craft took off on 16 June 2012 with a crew of 3. It successfully docked with the Tiangong-1 laboratory on 18 June 2012, at 06:07 UTC, marking China's first crewed spacecraft docking.[170] A larger basic permanent space station would be the third and last phase of Project 921. This will be a modular design with an eventual weight of around 60 tons, to be completed sometime before 2020. The first section, designated Tiangong 3, is scheduled for launch after Tiangong 2.[171] PRC aims for manned moon landing in 2020s.

India

Manned spacefairing attempts

Just a few days after China said that it would send a human into orbit in the second half of 2003, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee publicly urged his country's scientists to work towards sending a man to the Moon.[172]

Human Spaceflight Programme (HSP[173]) was officially started in 2007[174] by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to develop the technology needed to launch crewed orbital spacecraft into low Earth orbit.[175] To demonstrate the ability of recovering crewed orbiters, SRE-1 was conducted in same year.[176] GSLV Mk III launch system with ability to put 10 tonnes in LEO, sufficient to carry crewed spacecraft, was developed and work on ISRO Orbital Vehicle initiated. In December 2014, a Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment was conducted on sub-orbital flight of GSLV Mk III.[177]

The Mysore-based Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) has developed dried and packaged food for astronauts. The food laboratory has developed around 70 varieties of dehydrated and processed food items that have undergone strict procedures to zero-in on micro bacterial and macro bacterial nutrients. Special care has to be taken in the packing and the food item should be of limited weight but at the same time should be high in nutritional qualities.[178]

In July 2018, a pad abort test was conducted to validate crew escape system.[179] Parachute tests are scheduled before end of 2019 and multiple in-flight abort tests are planned starting mid 2020.[91]

On 15 August (Indian independence day) 2018, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that before India's 75th independence day in 2022, country would have sent humans in the space. Crew module mission was renamed as Gaganyaan.[180] India is expected to send 3 humans in LEO on Gaganyaan spacecraft for 3-4 days onboard a GSLV Mk III.[181]

Before announcement in August 2018, human spaceflight was not the priority for ISRO, though most of the required capability for it had been realised.[182] Conducting a manned spaceflight before 2022 has become highest priority after PM's announcement.[183] Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) was set up in end January 2019 to coordinate implementation of the mission.[184] A third launch pad is under construction at Satish Dhawan Space Centre with abilities to support heavy lift launchers and manned Spaceflight while the second one is being augmented with similar systems to realise mission on time. India's crewed orbital vehicle will have two uncrewed flights in end-2020 and mid-2021 before actually taking humans onboard in end-2021. Indian astronauts will be dubbed as Vyomanauts or Gaganauts. Seleceted by Indian institute of Aerospace medicine, a team of seven test pilots from Indian Air Force are undergoing training in Russia per the memorandum of understanding with Glavkosmos, out of which 4 will be ready for India's first manned space mission.[91]

As of December 2019, India's Department of Space maintains the scheduled date of December 2021 to conduct human spacefllight.[185]

Following continual

India plans to deploy a 20 tonne space station as a follow-up programme of the Gaganyaan mission. On 13 June 2019, ISRO Chief K. Sivan announced the plan, saying that India's space station will be deployed in 5-7 years after completion of Gaganyaan project. He also said that India will not join the International Space Station program. The space station would be capable of harbouring a crew for 15-20 days at a time. It is expected to be placed in a low Earth orbit of 400 km altitude and be capable of harbouring three humans. Final approval is expected to be given to the programme by the Indian government only after the completion of the Gaganyaan mission.[186][187][188]

ISRO is planning to conduct SPADEX (Space Docking Experiment) in 2020 to mature technologies related to orbital rendezvous, docking, formation flying and remote robotic arm operations, with scope of applications in human spaceflight, in-space satellite servicing and other proximity operations that will be critical for space station ooeraions.[189]

The agency intends to conduct a crewed lunar landing as well in future.[190][191]

Iran

Iran expressed for the first time its intention to send a human to space during the summit of Soviet and Iranian Presidents in 1990. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev reached an agreement in principle with erstwhile President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to make joint Soviet-Iranian manned flights to Mir space station but agreement was never realized after dissolution of USSR.

Iranian News Agency claimed on 21 November 2005, that the Iranians have a manned space program along with plans for the development of a spacecraft and a space laboratory. [192] Iran Aerospace Industries Organization (IAIO) head Reza Taghipour on 20 August 2008, revealed Iran intends to launch a manned mission into space within a decade. This goal was described as the country's top priority for the next 10 years, in order to make Iran the leading space power of the region by 2021.[193][194]

In August 2010, President Ahmadinejad announced that Iran's first astronaut should be sent into space on board an Iranian spacecraft by no later than 2019.[195][196] A sub-orbital spaceflight was conducted back in 2016.[197]

On 17 February 2015, Iran unveiled a mock prototype of Iranian manned spaceship that would capable of taking astronauts into space.[198] According to Iran's Space Administrator, this program was put on hold in 2017 indefinitely.[199]

According to unofficial Chinese internet sources, an Iranian participation in the future Chinese space station program has been under discussion.[200] Currently Iran doesn't have a medium lift rocket similar to Long March 2F, GSLV Mk III and H-IIA. Therefore, sending a human to space is unlikely by Iran due to the lack of equipment.[201]

Iraq

According to a press-release of Iraqi News Agency of 5 December 1989 about the first (and last) test of the Tammouz space launcher, Iraq intended to develop crewed space facilities by the end of the century. These plans were put to an end by the Gulf War of 1991 and the economic hard times that followed.

Solar System exploration

Solar System exploration and manned spaceflights are major space technologies in the public eye. Since Sakigake, the first interplanetary probe in Asia, was launched in 1985, Japan has completed the most planetary exploration, but other nations are catching up.

Moon race

The Moon is thought to be rich in Helium-3, which could one day be used in nuclear fusion power plants to fuel future energy demands in Asia. All three main Asian space powers plan to send people to the Moon in the distant future and have already sent lunar probes.

Asian lunar exploration probes
Mission name Type Year Vehicle Outcome
Hiten
(MUSES-A)
Flyby/Orbiter 1990 Mu-3S-II Success
Hagoromo Orbiter Failure
Lunar-A Orbiter 2004 (intended)
Never launched
M5 Cancelled and integrated into Russia's Luna-Glob.
SELENE
(VRAD)
Orbiter 2007 H-IIA 202 Success
Chang'e 1 Orbiter 2007 Long March 3A Success
Chandrayaan-1 Orbiter 2008 PSLV-XL Success
Chang'e 2 Orbiter 2010 Long March 3C Success
Chang'e 3 Orbiter
Lander
Rover
2013 Long March 3B Success
Chang'e 5-T1 Flyby 2014 Long March 3C Success
Chang'e 4 Orbiters
Lander
Rover
2018-19 Long March 4C and Long March 3B Success
Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter
Lander
Rover
2019 GSLV MkIII Partial success
Chandrayaan-3 Lander
Rover
November 2020 GSLV Mark II or GSLV MkIII Planned
Chang'e 5 Sample return Q4 2020 Long March 5 Planned
Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter Orbiter December 2020 Falcon 9 Planned
SELENE-2 Orbiter
Lander
Rover
2020s (intended) H-IIA (intended) Cancelled
SLIM Lander January 2022 H-IIA 202 Planned
DESTINY+ Flyby 2022 Epsilon Planned
Chang'e 6 Sample return 2023-24 Long March 5 Planned
Chang'e 7 Lander 2023 TBD Planned
Lunar Polar Exploration Mission Orbiter
Lander
Rover
2024 H-III Proposed
Chang'e 8 Lander 2026 TBD Proposed
North Korean mission to Moon TBD 2026 Unha-20 Proposed

Probing the Moon

Japan was the first Asian country to launch a lunar probe. The Hiten (Japanese: "flying angel") spacecraft (known before the launch as MUSES-A), built by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of Japan, was launched on 24 January 1990. In many ways, the mission did not go as was planned. Kaguya, the second Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft, was launched on 14 September 2007.

China launched its first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, on 24 October 2007 and successfully entered lunar orbit on 5 November 2007.

India launched its first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, on 22 October 2008 and successfully entered its final lunar orbit on 2 November 2008. The mission was considered a major success and the probe detected water on the lunar surface.

Moon landings

The first confirmed Moon landing from Asia was Hiten's mission in 1993. An intentional hard landing at the end of the mission, some pictures of the lunar surface were taken before impact.[202] Hiten was not designed as a Moon lander and had few scientific instruments for lunar exploration. The next Japanese Moon landing program was the LUNAR-A, developed from 1992. Although the LUNAR-A orbiter was cancelled, its penetrators are integrated into the Russian Luna-Glob program, which was scheduled to launch in 2011. The penetrators are "relatively" hard landers,[203] but they are not expected to be destroyed at impact.

The first Asian probe that was part of a lunar landing program was the Indian Moon Impact Probe (MIP) released from Chandrayaan-1 in 2008. MIP was a hard lander and was designed to move the ground under for research purposes. MIP was designed to be destroyed at impact. Its instruments performed lunar observations to within 25 minutes before impact. The landing test was to be applied to future soft landings such as Chandrayaan-2, planned for 2019. However, following successful orbital insertion, ISRO lost the contact with lander-rover module which was supposed to conduct soft landing on moon and only limited success could be accomplished. After accomplishment of its first manned mission, India has proposed space stations and manned missions to Moon in long term.[204][205]

The Chinese Chang'e-1 spacecraft also achieved a systematic hard landing at the end of its mission in 2009, when China became the sixth country to reach the lunar surface. One purpose of the lander was to pre-test for future soft landings. A Chinese lunar soft lander is achieved with the Chang'e-3 mission. With following Chang'e 4, PRC became world's first country to land on far side of the Moon. China also aims to undertake a manned Moon landing by late 2020s.[206]

Exploration of the major planets

Japanese interplanetary probes have been mostly limited to Small Solar System bodies such as comets and asteroids. Japan was world's first country to launch a spacecraft on asteroids. JAXA's Nozomi probe was launched in 1998, but contact was lost with the probe due to electrical failures before visiting the planet Mars. The second Japanese probe for the planet Venus, Akatsuki, was launched in 2010. Akatsuki entered orbit around Venus on December 7, 2015. Together with European Space Agency, JAXA has launched Mio spacecraft to for mapping magnetic field of Mercury. Spacecraft will have flyby through Venus as well.

Chinese scientists expect that China will take 20 years to launch independent planetary probes.[207] The Chinese manned Mars exploration program is planned for around 2050 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.[208] After failed attempt to launch Yinghuo-1, China is planning another Mars mission with an orbiter as well as rover. Moreover, China plans to send an orbiter to Venus around 2025.[209] China has also been planning an orbiter to Jupiter.[210]

India has successfully launched Mars Orbiter Mission on November 5, 2013. It reached Mars on September 2014. India has become the only country to successfully insert a satellite into Martian orbit in its maiden attempt; it also became the first Asian country to achieve this feat. India is planning another mission to Mars in 2020s.[211] India has schedules to launch Aditya-L1 near Sun to study Solar corona[212] and developing Shukrayaan-1 spacecraft to Venus.[213] India is also studying exploration missions to asteroids, Jupiter and to exo-planets and beyond solar system like American Voyager 1.[214]

Asian interplanetary exploration probes
Mission name Destination Type Year Vehicle Outcome
Nozomi Mars Orbiter 2003 M-V Failure
Hayabusa Asteroid: 25143 Itokawa Sample return 2005-7 M-V Success
Akatsuki
(PLANET-C)
Venus Orbiter 2010 H-IIA 202 Failure
(Failed orbiter insertion)
2015 Success
IKAROS Venus Flyby 2010 Success
Shin'en Venus Flyby 2010 Failure
Yinghuo-1 Mars Orbiter 2011 Zenit-2M Failure
Chang'e 2 Asteroid: 4179 Toutatis Flyby 2012 Long March 3C Success
Mars Orbiter Mission Mars Orbiter 2013-14 PSLV-XL Success
Hayabusa2 Asteroid: 162173 Ryugu Sample return 2014-20 H-IIA 202 en-route
PROCYON Asteroid: 2000 DP107 Flyby 2016 H-IIA 202 Failure
Mio Mercury Orbiter 2018-24 Ariane 5 ECA en-route
Aditya-L1 Sun Orbiter 2020 PSLV-XL Planned
Mars Global Remote Sensing Orbiter and Small Rover Mars Orbiter/Rover mid-2020 Long March 5 Planned
Hope Mars Mission Mars Orbiter 2020-21 H-IIA Planned
DESTINY+ Asteroid: 3200 Phaethon Flyby 2022-26 Epsilon Planned
Shukrayaan-1 Venus Orbiter and aerobots 2023 GSLV MkIII Planned
MMX Mars Orbiter 2024-2025 TBD Planned
Phobos Sample return Planned
Mars Orbiter Mission 2 Mars Orbiter
Lander
Rover
TBD GSLV MkII or GSLV MkIII Planned

See also

Notes and references

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