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Leapfrogging Into Space

Following up on Jeremy's post from earlier this month about Iran's plans to put a satellite into orbit in the next year or so, a couple of reports caught my eye this weekend about the increased space activity of countries once considered "third world." The ability to regularly launch satellites into orbit (or beyond) is important for a variety of reasons. As we've noted repeatedly here, satellites are incredibly useful tools for understanding what's happening with a region's environment, population, urbanization, etc., as well as for facilitating communication. Homegrown launch capacity means being able to put up a satellite without having to pay the US/EU/China/Japan/Russia for the privilege.

Reuters and SciScoop have the details about Brazil's successful test of a prototype satellite launch vehicle. Previous tests failed, sometimes explosively. Brazil hopes to be able to sell this design to the ESA. The Reuters piece notes that Brazil also wants to turn its equatorial Alcantara space base into an "international commercial satellite launch center."

Finally, India, which already has a successful domestic satellite program, is now setting its sights a bit higher: the moon. Kerala Online reports about a press conference held by G Madhavan Nair, the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) about a planned mission to put a satellite in a polar orbit around the moon. The satellite will study the moon's surface, and will "serve as a vital stepping stone for developing technologies needed for ISRO's inter-planetary missions later."


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