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European, Asian, and Commercial Space Programs


Europe continued to master all aspects of advanced technology, space science and earth applications, and interplanetary satellite programs. Germany had launched a Roentgen Satellite (Rosat) carrying a large telescope/ camera system to survey the X-ray sky. ESA built and launched from a shuttle the interplanetary probe Ulysses, a science mission to examine our Sun from an orbit that will take it over the north and south poles of the Sun. France orbited it several SPOT (SPOT 2 and 3) earth observation satellites to be used for commercial mapping and forestry, and agriculture and geological studies. Europe contributed to the world weather forecasting community by launching Meteosat 5 and 6 satellites, similar to NOAA's GOES system. Many second generation communications satellites were launched to support European commercial and military needs.


Japan, the PRC and India continue to expand their space capabilities in the areas of launch vehicles, satellite manufacturing, and satellite applications such as weather, communications, earth resources, and interplanetary probes. Two new nations began using communication satellites for regional use, Thailand and Pakistan. Israel continued to development its own space infrastructure for launch vehicles and satellite manufacturing. Satellites that Japan launched included Muses A on a lunar swingby mission with a lunar orbiter satellite attached (Hagoromo), Marine Observation Satellite IB (MOS 1B) to observe oceanic phenomena and earth terrain, Solar A which is a solar observation satellite carrying both soft and hard X-ray telescopes, Japanese Environmental Resources Satellite (JERS 1) which carries a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical sensors, Astro-D which is an astronomy satellite carrying instruments to collect X-ray imagery, and finally the Geostationary Meteorological Satellite 5 (GMS-5) which joints weather satellites from NASA, ESA and Russia to form the worldwide weather forecasting network. The PRC capabilities continue to grow in the areas of communication satellites, earth resources, capsule recovery and launch services.


Beside continuing into the commercial communications satellite market for other nations, business companies expanded into the commercial launch business. Such companies as Arianespace, PRC, Russia and the United States offer boosters for a price depending on the size of satellite that needs to orbited. Even an international consortium is developing a launch platform to be used at sea. A new field of expansion is the global positioning market which grew considerably after the Persian Gulf War. And finally, remote sensing is finally beginning to expand but its prime customers seem to be the intelligence services of various countries.


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Primary Author: Nicholas M. Short, Sr. email:

Collaborators: Code 935 NASA GSFC, GST, USAF Academy
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