Things to Know About Space for 2012

Art by Marina Muscan

by Walt Staples and Karina Fabian

Happy New Year!  2012 looks to be an exciting time for space.  We'll see commercial and Chinese presence growing in the manned space arena, and unmanned space exploration is forging ahead.  Of course, the political climate may change with the elections coming.  So here are are a few articles to get you ready for 2012:

Snapshot of Most Anticipated Events for 2012:  Commercial space flights to support manned space, Chinese space labs, moon mapping, light sails, asteroid and Mars missions and secret space missions (and you thought the Shuttle was dead.) takes you on a whirlwind tour of what to expect this year.

China has big plans for space:  Communist countries have always been big on "Five-year-plans," and China has announced its plans for space through 2016.  It includes more launches "space freighters" and orbiting spacelabs.  The article notes that space is a matter of national pride, but I think the Chinese see a potential market as well.

Presidential Candidates' Stands on Space:  Speaking of "five-year-plans," wouldn't it be nice if the US could hold onto a plan for more than a few years?  Obama made a radical move by putting near-earth space in the hands of commercial industries and turning the government focus to farther out.  Question is, will it stay that way in the next election?  This article shows the space policy stances of the presidential candidates.  Between you and me, I don't see why there has to be opposition on this issue.  Promoting private industry is a Republican thing--why not take the stance that "Well, since Obama sees things our way on this..."

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