Fortune favors the bold

The cosmos is a big pie to be shared

Russia still retains numerical superiority in space, leaving behind the US and the rest of the world. It has launched 1,336 satellites, while the US has launched only 878 satellites. To compare: China launched 34 satellites; the European Space Agency, 32; India, 22; Japan, 72; France, 33; Great Britain, 21; and Germany, 18. In 2001, Russia launched 12 satellites. In 1985, the USSR launched 64 satellites for military purposes.

An up-to-date armed forces depend on the space sphere very much, and this dependence grows each year. According to General Howell M. Estes, US Space Command, space is the centre of the military strategy of the future. However, space attracts not only military, but commercial interests as well, because many industries of today’s economy cannot be without satellites.

At the moment, about 550 satellites are rotating at near-earth orbit. Many of them execute exclusively civil functions or simply do not function at all. About a half of these satellites belong to the US ( half of them execute commercial functions). Commercial interests are becoming more active: for example, the International Telecom Satellite Organization has already launched 60 near-earth orbit satellites, which is more that Germany and France combined. Private investments in space programs in 2001 made up about $100 billion dollars and are constantly growing. In the scope of the whole world, over 1.1 thousand companies work in the space industry. The volume of orders of the US space industry grows yearly by 20 percent.

According to US Air Force magazine, during the next five years, the world will spend $500 billion dollars on space programs; 1-1.5 thousand new satellites will be launched, mainly for military purposes, while a portion of the commercial satellites will also either serve the interests of military intelligence. For example, the US uses civil satellites for military purposes: Globalstar, Intelsat, Immarsat (which secure the communication links), and Ikonos (which takes detailed photographs of the earth surface).

The Forecast International investigation company forecasts that the volume of the market of space electro-optic devices will soon make $ 15.7 billion, while the US share in this market will make up 61 percent. Many segments will be fully controlled by US firms. The leaders in this sphere are Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Rafael, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing. However, the process of the world economy globalization will result in many countries’ participation in these programs, because their companies could become sub-contractors in executing these space orders.

Moreover, space tourism could become super profitable. A poll carried out by Zogby International among well-to-do citizens of the US and Canada showed that 5-10 thousand people are ready to pay $100,000 for a trip into space. About 7 percent of respondents said that they were ready to pay several million dollars to participate in a several-week space tour. In the poll, people with a yearly income of at least $ 250,000 participated. Other polls that are regularly carried out by US mass media show that up to one-third of respondents are ready to pay $ 50 thousand to get to space. So far, Russia retains superiority in the number of launched space vehicles. According to Air Force, 920 US satellites launched execute civil tasks, while 803 execute military tasks. The US launched 566 military space vehicles and 674 civil space vehicles, while the USSR/Russia launched 1,645 military and 1,016 civil space vehicles. However, according to the CIA, about 70 percent of Soviet space systems executed military functions and only 15 percent executed civil functions. The total weight of USSR-Russian space vehicles launched made up 10 times more than that that of the US. CIA analysts stated that this is not a very important figure, because ,thanks to the better quality of microelectronics, the US used small satellites.

Within the period from January of 1959 to May of 2001, the US spent $ 1,036,108,000,000 for space programs. About $ 471,000,000 was spent for purely military programs. The real expenses of the USSR and Russia for space programs are still unknown, as well as the role of the military component of these programs. However, experts state that “peaceful space investigation” was for the USSR only an addition to its “military space programs.”

The main tasks of military space forces, according to the US Defense Department, is securing communication, topography, delivering strikes on enemy’s air and surface forces from space, air-defence, navigation, and time control (the latter is necessary for a more exact carrying out of military operations), reconnaissance and observation, control over space (investigation of space possibilities of other countries), environmental protection, meteorology etc.

Dmitry Chirkin PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Vera Solovieva

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