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Intensifying Competition in Space Exploration, New Space Era Begins!
  • By Kim Min-seong, reporter
  • 승인 2023.09.17 23:37
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▲ Image of Aditya L1 launch, which took off on the 2nd of September (Source: ISRO)

Competition for space exploration is heating up, not only between the United States and Russia, but among various countries. On the 23rd, India became the fourth country to successfully land on the moon with its lunar probe 'Chandrayaan 3,' following the United States, Russia, and China. India didn't stop there and successfully launched its first solar observation satellite 'Aditya,' on the 2nd.
During the height of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union each landed on the moon in July 1969 and September 1970, respectively, as part of the space race. In contrast, China successfully landed 'Chang'e 3' on the moon in 2013, much later. Furthermore, in 2019, China became the first country in the world to land 'Chang'e 4' on the far side of the moon. Japan also successfully launched its large spacecraft 'H2A 47' for lunar landing on the 7th, with plans to land the lunar landing rocket 'SLIM' between January and February of next year.
Why are countries accelerating their entry into space? Professor McDowell from the Harvard- Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, interviewed by the BBC, stated, "The moon serves as a stepping stone to places like Mars." In fact, in September 2016 in Guadalajara, Mexico, SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk announced his plans to, "colonize Mars," along with concrete plans published in the US science journal, Space.
In addition to the ambitious goals of space exploration, economic reasons also contribute to the acceleration of space ventures. Currently, space is witnessing commercialization and increased participation of private entities, leading to a shift from traditional nation- corporation- centric space development to a more diverse industry ecosystem known as the 'New Space' era. In the United States, private companies like SpaceX are demonstrating technological innovation, including rocket reusability, while the convergence of IoT, cloud, big data, and mobile industries are lowering entry barriers into the space industry. This has led to explosive growth in private investment and new space service markets. The satellite industry is also advancing with innovations in launch vehicle technology and miniaturization of components. These miniaturized satellites reduce development time and costs, lowering satellite launch costs to around 1 million US dollars. According to the South Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance's, "Plan for Developing Ultra- Small Satellites and 6G Satellite Communication Technology," announced in 2021, these miniaturized satellite clusters can connect ground and satellite networks, enabling 3D communication to overcome the limitations of terrestrial networks.
Leading the way in these changes in future industries, SpaceX opened the era of, "Reusable Space Launch Vehicles," in September 2015 when it successfully launched the satellite into orbit with the FALCON 9 space launch vehicle and subsequently recovered it. Moreover, SpaceX is operating the 'Starlink' project for internet infrastructure and launched 833 satellites in 2020 for this project, leading the New Space era. South Korea, as a latecomer in space exploration, is also making efforts to catch up with these changes. South Korea successfully launched the Nuriho (KSLV- II) and became the seventh country in the world to manufacture its own launch vehicle. The government is also investing 27.85 billion KRW until 2027 to nurture the private space industry.
Space exploration, which once felt distant, is becoming a reality like never before thanks to technological advancements. India's successful launch is significant, not only as the world's first lunar South Pole landing, but also because it was achieved at a fraction of the cost of traditional launches, at only 46 million US dollars. It is hoped that space development will become more commercialized in the future, benefiting humanity in various ways.

By Kim Min-seong, reporter  kms9494274@gmail.com

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