A new space race in Asia

Author: Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Observer Research Foundation

Asia houses three established space powers — Japan, China and India — with space exploration goals ranging from social and economic development to improving telecommunications and national security. But it is the national security drivers of Asian space exploration that are becoming more prominent, partly driven by the changing balance of power equations both within Asia and beyond.

Members of the International Space Station expedition 54/55, Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency during the send-off ceremony after checking their space suits before the launch of the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft at the Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, 17 December 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool).

China’s growing space capabilities are driving much of the space competition in Asia. For one, it has led to greater cooperation in space exploration between India and Japan. In September 2017, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to put outer space at the centre of their bilateral relationship. They welcomed the ‘deepening of cooperation between the space agencies of the two countries in the field of Earth observation, satellite-based navigation, space …continue reading