Several Asian countries have space programs and are actively competing to achieve scientific and technological advancements in space, a situation sometimes referred to as the Asian space race in the popular media as a reference to the earlier Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Like the previous space race, issues involved in the current push to space include national security, which has spurred many countries to send artificial satellites as well as humans into Earth orbit and beyond. A number of Asian countries are seen as contenders in the ongoing race to be the pre-eminent power in space.
Asian space agencies and programs
|Country||Name||Initialisms/Acronym||Founded||Terminated||Capabilities of the space agency||Remarks|
|Astronauts||Operates Satellites||Sounding Rockets capable||Recoverable Biological Sounding Rockets capable|
|Bangladesh||Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization||SPARRSO||1980||—||No||Yes||No||No|||
|People's Republic of China||China National Space Administration
|CNSA||22 April 1993||—||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|||
|India||Indian Space Research Organisation
(Hindi: भारतीय अंतरिक्ष अनुसंधान संगठन)
|15 August 1969||—||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|||
|Indonesia||Indonesian: Lembaga Antariksa dan Penerbangan Nasional
(National Institute of Aeronautics and Space)
|LAPAN||27 November 1964||—||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|||
|Iran||Iranian Space Agency
(Persian: سازمان فضایی ایران)
|Israel||Israeli Space Agency
(Hebrew: סוכנות החלל הישראלית)
|April 1983||—||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|||
|Japan||Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
|JAXA||1 October 2003||—||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|||
|Malaysia||Malaysian National Space Agency
(Malay: Agensi Angkasa Negara)
|North Korea||Korean Committee of Space Technology
|Pakistan||Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission
(Urdu: پاکستان خلائی و بالا فضائی تحقیقاتی کمیشن)
|16 September 1961||—||No||Yes||Yes||No|||
|Philippines||Philippine Space Agency||PhilSA||8 August 2019||—||No||Yes||No||No|||
|South Korea||Korea Aerospace Research Institute
|KARI||10 October 1989||—||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|||
|Republic of China||National Space Organization
|NSPO||3 October 1991||—||No||Yes||Yes||No|||
|Thailand||Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency
|3 November 2002||—||No||Yes||No||No|||
Asian space powers
Of the ten countries that have independently successfully launched a satellite into orbit, six countries: Japan (1970), China (1970), India (1980), Israel (1988), Iran (2009) and North Korea (2012), are Asian. Of six major space powers in world which have full launch capabilities to transfer heavy payloads in geosynchronous orbits, can launch multiple and recoverable satellites, deploy cryogenic engines and operate extraterrestrial exploration missions, three (China, India and Japan) are Asian.
China's first manned spacecraft entered orbit in October 2003, making China the first Asian nation to send a human into space. India expects to send Vyomnauts to space in the Gaganyaan capsule by 2022.
While the achievements of space programs run by the main Asian space players (China, India, and Japan) pale in comparison to the milestones set by the former Soviet Union and the United States, some experts believe Asia may soon lead the world in space exploration. Each Asian spacefaring country has its own dominance in specific aerospace aspect. For instance, the first Chinese manned spaceflight, in 2003, marked the beginning of a space race in the region and India is the first Asian country to successfully launch a Mars orbiter (and the first country in the world to do so in its first attempt). At the same time, the existence of a space race in Asia is still debated due to the non-concurrence of space milestone events like there was for the United States and the Soviet Union. Japan for example was the first power on Earth to get a sample return mission from an asteroid. There was however some concurrence between China and India to see which of those two could be the first to launch a probe to the Earth's moon back in the late 2000s decade. China, for example, denies that there is an Asian space race. In January 2007 China became the first Asian military-space power to send an anti-satellite missile into orbit, to destroy an aging Chinese Feng Yun 1C weather satellite in polar orbit. The resulting explosion sent a wave of debris hurtling through space at more than 6 miles per second. India did the same in 2019 by shooting down its own satellite Microsat-R. The operation was named Mission Shakti A month later, Japan's space agency launched an experimental communications satellite designed to enable super high-speed data transmission in remote areas.
After successful achievement of geostationary technology, India's ISRO launched its first Moon mission, Chandrayaan-1 in October 2008, which discovered ice water on the Moon. India then launched on 5 November 2013 its maiden interplanetary mission, the Mars Orbiter Mission. The primary objective is to determine Mars' atmospheric composition and attempt to detect methane. The spacecraft completed its journey on 24 September 2014 when it entered its intended orbit around Mars, making India the first Asian country to successfully place a Mars orbiter and the only country in history to do so in the first attempt. ISRO became the fourth space agency in the world to send a spacecraft to Mars, only behind NASA, ROSCOSMOS, and ESA. China & India have tested their anti- satellite weapons respectively in 2007 and 2019, making them only countries after US & USSR/Russia to possess ASAT weapons.
In addition to increasing national pride, countries are commercially motivated to operate in space. Commercial satellites are launched for communications, weather forecasting, and atmospheric research. According to a report by the Space Frontier Foundation released in 2006, the "space economy" is estimated to be worth about $180 billion, with more than 60% of space-related economic activity coming from commercial goods and services. China and India propose the initiation of a commercial launch service.
China has a space program with an independent human spaceflight capability. It has developed a sizable family of successful Long March rockets. It has launched two lunar orbiters, Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2. On 2 December 2013, China launched a modified Long March 3B rocket, with Chang'e 3 Moon lander and its rover Yutu on-board toward the Moon and successfully performed soft landing and rover operations, becoming the third country to do so. It also has plans to retrieve samples by late 2017. In 2011, China embarked on a program to establish a manned space station, starting with the launch of Tiangong 1 and followed by Tiangong 2 in 2016. China attempted to send a Mars orbiter (Yinghuo-1) in 2011 on a joint mission with Russia, which failed to leave Earth orbit. Nevertheless, the 2020 Chinese Mars Mission with an orbiter, a lander and a rover has been approved by the government and is aiming a launch date in the year 2020. China has collaborative projects with Russia, ESA, and Brazil, and has launched commercial satellites for other countries. Some analysts suggest that the Chinese space program is linked to the nation's efforts at developing advanced military technology.
China's advanced technology is the result of the integration of various related technological experiences. Early Chinese satellites, such as the FSW series, have undergone many atmospheric reentry tests. In the 1990s China had commercial launches, resulting in more launch experiences and a high success rate after the 1990s. China has aimed to undertake scientific development in fields like Solar System exploration. China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft successfully performed an EVA in September 2008. China's Shenzhou 9 spacecraft successfully performed a manned docking in June 2012. Furthermore, China's Chang'e 2 explorer became the first object to reach Sun-Earth Lagrangian point in August 2011 and also the first probe to explore both Moon and asteroid by making a flyby of the asteroid 4179 Toutatis. China has launched DAMPE, the most capable dark matter explorer to date in 2015, and world's first quantum communication satellite QUESS in 2016.
India's interest in space travel began in the early 1960s, when scientists launched a Nike-Apache rocket from TERLS, Kerala. Under Vikram Sarabhai, the program focused on the practical uses of space in increasing the standard of living. Remote sensing and communications satellites were placed into orbit.
Just a few days after China said that it would send a human into orbit in the second half of 2003, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee publicly urged his country's scientists to work towards sending a man to the Moon. India successfully sent its first probe to the Moon known as Chandrayaan-1 in October 2008 which helped in finding the presence of water in the Moon  and has already launched its second Moon mission, Chandrayaan-2 to the south pole of the Moon.
ISRO launched its Mars Orbiter Mission on November 5, 2013 (informally called "Mangalyaan") which successfully entered into the orbit around Mars on 24 September 2014. India is the first in Asia and fourth in the world to perform a successful Mars mission. It is also the only one to do so on the first attempt and at a record low cost of $74 million.
ISRO has demonstrated its re-entry technology and till date has launched as many as 175 foreign satellites belonging to global customers from 20 countries including US, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, U.K. All of these have been launched successfully by PSLVs so far, gaining significant expertise in space technologies. In June 2016, India set a record by launching 20 satellites simultaneously. The PSLVs are also one of world's most reliable launch vehicles which clocked its 35th successful mission (39 total) in a row as of February 2017, thus having success rate of nearly 90%.
Recent reports indicate that human spaceflight is planned with a spacecraft called Gaganyaan for December 2021 on a home-grown GSLV-III rocket. ISRO is also planning to send orbiters to Venus, Mars and in the near future. India has successfully tested anti-satellite missile, becoming the fourth country to do so.
Japan has been cooperating with the United States on missile defence since 1999. North Korean nuclear and Chinese military programs represent a serious issue for Japan's foreign relations. Japan is working on military and civilian space technologies, developing missile defence systems, new generations of military spy satellites, and planning for manned stations on the Moon. Japan started to construct spy satellites after North Korea test fired a Taepodong missile over Japan in 1998. The North Korean government claimed the missile was merely launching a satellite to space, and accused Japan of causing an arms race. The Japanese constitution adopted after World War II limits military activities to defensive operations. In May 2007 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a bold review of the Japanese Constitution to allow the country to take a larger role in global security and foster a revival of national pride. Japan has not yet developed its own manned spacecraft and does not have a program in place to develop one. The Japanese space shuttle HOPE-X, to be launched by the conventional space launcher H-II, was developed but the program was postponed and eventually cancelled. Then the simpler manned capsule Fuji was proposed but not adopted. Pioneer projects of single-stage to orbit, reusable launch vehicle horizontal takeoff and landing ASSTS and vertical takeoff and landing Kankoh-maru were developed but have not been adopted. A more conservative new (JAXA manned spacecraft) project is proposed to launch by 2025 as part of the Japanese plan to send manned missions to the Moon. Shin'ya Matsuura [ja] is doubtful about the Japanese manned Moon project, and suspects the project is a euphemism for participation in the American Constellation program. JAXA planned to send a humanoid robot (such as ASIMO) to the Moon.[when?]
Iran has developed its own satellite launch vehicle, named the Safir SLV, based on the Shahab series of IRBMs. On 2 February 2009, Iranian state television reported that Iran's first domestically made satellite Omid (from the Persian امید, meaning "Hope") had been successfully launched into low Earth orbit by a version of Iran's Safir rocket, the Safir-2. The launch coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. Iran is also developing a new launch vehicle Simorgh (rocket).
Israel became the eighth country in the world to build its own satellite and launch it with its own launcher on 19 September 1988. Israel launched its first satellite, Ofeq-1, using an Israeli-built Shavit three-stage launch vehicle. The launching was the high point of a process that began in 1983 with the establishment of the Israel Space Agency under the aegis of the Ministry of Science. Space research by university-based scientists began in the 1960s, providing a ready-made pool of experts for Israel's foray into space. Since then, local universities, research institutes, and private industry, backed by the Israel Space Agency, have made progress in space technology. The agency's role is to support "private and academic space projects, coordinate their efforts, initiate and develop international relations and projects, head integrative projects involving different bodies, and create public awareness for the importance of space development."
North Korea has many years of experience with rocket technology, which it has passed along to Pakistan and other countries. On December 12, 2012, North Korea placed its first satellite in orbit with the launch of Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2. On 12 March 2009 North Korea signed the Outer Space Treaty and the Registration Convention, after a previous declaration of preparations for the launch of Kwangmyongsong-2. North Korea twice announced satellite launches: Kwangmyŏngsŏng-1 on 31 August 1998 and Kwangmyŏngsŏng-2 on 5 April 2009. Neither of these claims were confirmed by the rest of the world, but the United States and South Korea believe there were tests of military ballistic missiles. The North Korean space agency is the Korean Committee of Space Technology, which operates the Musudan-ri and Tongch'ang-dong Space Launch Center rocket launching sites and has developed the Baekdusan-1 and Unha (Baekdusan-2) space launchers and Kwangmyŏngsŏng satellites. In 2009 North Korea announced several future space projects, including manned space flights and the development of a manned partially reusable launch vehicle. The successor to the Korean Committee of Space Technology, National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) successfully launched an Unha-3 launch vehicle in February 2016, placing the Kwangmyŏngsŏng-4 satellite in orbit.
LAPAN is responsible for long-term civilian and military aerospace research Indonesia. In July 1976, Indonesia became the first developing country to operate its own domestic satellite system. In October 1985, Indonesian scientist, Pratiwi Sudarmono was selected to take part in the NASA Space Shuttle missions STS-61-H as a Payload Specialist. Taufik Akbar was her backup on the mission. However, after the Challenger disaster the deployment of commercial satellites like the Indonesian Palapa B-3 planned for the STS-61-H mission was canceled, thus the mission never took place. The satellite was later launched with a Delta rocket. For over two decades, Indonesia has managed satellites and domain-developed small scientific-technology satellites LAPAN and telecommunication satellites Palapa, which were built by Hughes (now Boeing Satellite Systems) and launched from the US on Delta rockets or from French Guiana using Ariane 4 and Ariane 5 rockets. It has also developed sounding rockets and has been trying to develop small orbital space launchers. The LAPAN A1 in 2007 and LAPAN A2 satellites were launched by India in 2015. Indonesia has undertaken programs to develop and use their own small space launch vehicle Pengorbitan (RPS-420).
South Korea is a newer player in the Asian space race. In August 2006 South Korea launched its first military communications satellite, the Mugunghwa-5. The satellite was placed in geosynchronous orbit and collects surveillance information about North Korea. The South Korean government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in space technology and was due to launch its first space launcher, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle, in 2008.[needs update] South Korea's government justifies the cost for reasons of long-term commercial benefits and national pride. South Korea has long seen North Korea's significantly longer missile range as a serious threat to its national security. With the nation's first astronaut launched into space, Lee So-yeon, South Korea gained confidence in entering the Asian space race. They have completed the construction of Naro Space Center. South Korea is now attempting to build satellites and rockets with local technology. South Korea is pursuing a space program that could defend the peninsula while lessening their dependency on the United States.
As of 2012 Turkey was developing its own military satellite. The first Göktürk satellite is planned to be launched in 2013.[needs update] The Turkish satellite is planned to be capable of taking satellite images of greater than two meters per pixel resolution, thus making Turkey the second nation in the world capable of such a feat, after the United States. Turkey is also developing an orbital launch system known as UFS.
Other nations and regions
Other minor spacefaring countries are Bangladesh, Malaysia and Pakistan. On 7 June 1962, with the launch of the Rehbar-I rocket, Pakistan became the tenth country in the world to successfully conduct the launch of an unmanned spacecraft. SUPARCO has launched a number of sounding rockets. Pakistan's first satellite, Badr-I was launched from China in 1990, Badr-B in 2001 from Baikonur Cosmodrome using a Ukrainian Zenit-2 rocket, followed by Paksat-1R in 2011 which was contracted and actually built and launched by China, was Pakistan's first communication satellite. Under its Space programme 2040, Pakistan aims to operate five geostationary and six low earth orbit satellites. Development of any satellite launch vehicle is not planned.
With the launch of Bangabandhu-1 satellite purchased abroad, Bangladesh began operating its first communication satellite in 2018. Bangladesh Space Agency intends to launch satellites after 2020. Bangladesh's government has stressed that the country seeks an "entirely peaceful and commercial" role in space.
Timeline of national firsts
|– Indigenous manned missions||– Manned missions||– Lunar or Interplanetary missions||– Other missions|
|Date||Nation||Name||Asian First||World achievements|
|4 October 1957|| Soviet Union
(now under Kazakhstan)
|Baikonur Cosmodrome||Satellite launch pad||The first satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched.|
|11 February 1970||Japan||Ohsumi||Satellite||The smallest satellite launch vehicle (L-4S; 9.4t weight, 1.4m diameter)|
|24 February 1975||Japan||Taiyo||Solar probe|
|26 October 1975||China||FSW-0||Satellite recovery|
|26 October 1975||China||FSW-0:
– 10m (1975)
– 4m (1992)
– 0.5m (till 2007)
|High resolution imaging satellite|
|8 July 1976||Indonesia||Palapa A1||Geosynchronous satellite (launched by NASA)|
|23 February 1977||Japan||N-I||Geosynchronous launch|
|21 February 1979||Japan||Hakucho||Space observatory|
|23 July 1980||Vietnam||Phạm Tuân||Asian in space (Soyuz 37)|
|20 September 1981||China||FB-1||Simultaneous satellite launch|
|8 January 1985||Japan||Sakigake||Leaving Earth orbit||The first interplanetary launch by solid rocket (M-3SII)|
|19 March 1990||Japan||Hagoromo||Reach lunar orbit (assumed)|
|7 April 1990||China||CZ-3||Commercial launch (AsiaSat 1)|
|10 April 1993||Japan||Hiten||Intentional lunar impact||The first aerobraking test|
|8 July 1994||Japan||Chiaki Mukai||Asian woman in space (STS-65)|
|19 November 1997||Japan||Takao Doi||Spacework (STS-87)|
|28 November 1997||Japan||ETS-VII||Rendezvous docking|
|3 July 1998||Japan||Nozomi||Martian mission (Failure)|
|30 October 2000||China||Beidou||Satellite navigation system|
|10 September 2002||Japan||Kodama||Data relay satellite (with ESA)|
|15 October 2003||China||Yang Liwei||First man in space launched by an Asian space program|
|15 October 2003||China||Shenzhou 5||Manned spacecraft|
|19 November 2005||Japan||Hayabusa||Soft-landed probe on extraterrestrial object||The first asteroid ascent, sample return from an asteroid|
|11 January 2007||China||FY-1C||ASAT test||Highest in history with altitude 865 km, also the fastest with speed 18k miles|
|23 February 2008||Japan||WINDS||Internet satellite||The fastest internet satellite|
|11 March 2008||Japan||Japanese Experiment Module||Manned foundations in space (STS-123, STS-124, STS-127)||The world's largest pressurized volume in space|
|25 April 2008||China||Tianlian I||Indigenous Tracking & Data Relay Satellite System
First TDRS system to support manned missions
|27 September 2008||China||Zhai Zhigang (Shenzhou 7)||Indigenous EVA|
|27 September 2008||China||BanXing||Manned spacecraft-launched satellite|
|14 November 2008||India||Moon Impact Probe||Probe designed for Lunar impact||Discovered water on the Moon before impact.|
|23 January 2009||Japan||GOSAT||Greenhouse gas explorer|
|20 May 2010||Japan||Akatsuki||First Asian Venus mission|
|21 May 2010||Japan||IKAROS||Solar sail||The first spacecraft to successfully demonstrate solar-sail technology in interplanetary space|
|25 August 2011||China||Chang'e 2||Lunar probe with extended deep space missions (asteroid mission to 4179 Toutatis).|
|29 September 2011||China||Tiangong-1||First Asian Space station|
|18 June 2012||China||Shenzhou 9||First manned space docking by an Asian country (with Tiangong-1)|
|14 December 2013||China||Chang'e 3/Yutu||First lunar soft landing and lunar rover by an Asian country.|
|24 September 2014||India||Mars Orbiter Mission||First successful Mars mission by an Asian country||First Martian mission by a country to succeed on the first attempt. Third country to do so after the USSR and the USA.|
|15 February 2017||India||PSLV-C37||First to successfully launch and deploy 104 satellites simultaneously from a single rocket (PSLV -C37).||First country in the world to launch more than 100 satellites at one go.|
|3 January 2019||China||Chang'e 4||First soft landing on the far side of the Moon||First soft landing on the far side of the Moon by any country. Landed with Yutu-2 rover.|
|First success||LEO||GTO / GEO||Notes|
|11 Feb 1970||L-4S (26 kg)||First launch was 1966 (failed 4 times).|
|24 Apr 1970||CZ-1 (0.3 t)||First launch failed in 1969.|
|26 Jul 1975||FB-1 (2.5 t)||Suborbital flight was performed in 1972.|
CZ-2A (LEO 2t) failed in 1974.
|16 Jul 1990||CZ-2E (LEO 9.2 t / GTO 3.5 t)|
|20 Aug 1997||CZ-3B (LEO 12 t / GTO 5.2 t)|
|18 Dec 2006||H-IIA204 (LEO 15 t / GTO 5.8 t)|
|10 Sep 2009||H-IIB (LEO 19 t / GTO 8 t)|
|3 Nov 2016||H-IIB (LEO 19 t)||CZ-5 (GTO 14 t)|
Comparison of key technologies
Records of each country are listed by chronological order unless otherwise noted.
Launch vehicle technology
- First successful independent launches (rocket/satellite)
|China||1970||Long March 1/Dong Fang Hong I|
|North Korea||2012||Unha-3/Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2|
- Solid fuel rockets
|Country||Rocket||Burn time||Specific impulse (Vac.)||Thrust (Vac.)|
|India||S200 booster rocket stage||130s||274.5s||5,150 kN (1,160,000 lbf)|
|Japan||SRB-A series solid fueled rocket boosters||100s||280s||2,260 kN (510,000 lbf)|
|Israel||Shavit's first stage||82s||280s||1,650 kN (370,000 lbf)|
|China||Kuaizhou series of launch vehicles|
|China||Long March 11 launch system|
- Cryogenic and semi-cryogenic rocket engines
|Japan||LE-5 cryogenic engine||LE-5 — 102.9 kN (23,100 lbf)
LE-5A — 121.5 kN (27,300 lbf)
LE-5B — 144.9 kN (32,600 lbf)
|Upper stage||5 — Gas generator
5A and 5B — Expander
|1986 — present||In service|
|LE-7 cryogenic engine||LE-7 — 1,078 kN (242,000 lbf)
LE-7A — 1,074 kN (241,000 lbf)
|Booster||Staged combustion||1994 — present||In service|
|China||YF-73 cryogenic engine||44.15 kN (9,930 lbf)||Upper stage||Gas generator||1987-2000||Retired|
|YF-75 cryogenic engine||78.45 kN (17,640 lbf)||Upper stage||Gas generator||1994 — present||In service|
|YF-75D cryogenic engine||88.26 kN (19,840 lbf)||Upper stage||Expander||2016 — present||In service|
|YF-77 cryogenic engine||700 kN (160,000 lbf)||Booster||Gas generator||2016 — present||In service|
|India||CE-7.5 cryogenic engine||73.5 kN (16,500 lbf)||Upper stage||Staged combustion||2014 — present||In service|
|CE-20 cryogenic engine||200 kN (45,000 lbf)||Upper stage||Gas-generator||2017 — present||In service|
|SCE-200 semi-cryogenic engine||2,030 kN (460,000 lbf)||Booster||Staged combustion||After 2022||Under development|
- Capability of Launch Vehicle (in active)
|Country||Highest payload capacity|
|Launch Vehicle||Payload capacity||Active since||Launch Vehicle||Payload capacity||Active since|
|China||CZ-5||25,000 kg (55,000 lb)||2016||CZ-5||14,000 kg (31,000 lb)||2016|
|Japan||H-IIB||16,500 kg (36,400 lb)||2009||H-IIB||8,000 kg (18,000 lb)||2009|
|India||GSLV MkIII||10,000 kg (22,000 lb)||2017||GSLV MkIII||4,000 kg (8,800 lb)||2017|
|Israel||Shavit||800 kg (1,800 lb)||1988||Not any yet|
|North Korea||Unha-3||200 kg (440 lb)||2009||Not any yet|
|Iran||Safir-1B||50 kg (110 lb)||2008||Not any yet|
- Biggest multi-satellite simultaneous launches (by number)
|Country||Number of satellites||Year||Launch Vehicle||Flight|
|China||20||2015||Long March 6||1|
- First flight of space shuttles
- Including shuttle-shaped hypersonic reentry vehicles reach to space.
|Country||Spaceplane||First flight mission||Year||Program status|
|India||RLV–TD||Hypersonic Flight Experiment||2016||Under development|
- Payloads in orbit by number
- Optical satellite imagery (by highest available resolution)
|Japan||0.4 meter||IGS Optical 5V||2013|
|Israel||0.5 meter||Ofeq 9||2010|
|China||0.5 meter||Gaofen 9||2015|
|South Korea||0.7 meter||KOMPSAT-3||2012|
|Iran||150 meters||Rasad 1||2011|
- Radar satellite imagery (by resolution)
|0.5 meter x 0.3 meter||RISAT-2B||2019|
|Japan||0.5 meter||IGS R-5||2017|
|China||0.5 meter||Yaogan 29||2015|
|South Korea||1 meter||KOMPSat-5||2013|
- Communications satellite technology
|China||NIGCOMSAT 1R||28||5,150 kg (11,350 lb)||10.5 kW||2011|
|Japan||ST-2||51||5,090 kg (11,220 lb)||2011|
|India||GSAT-16||48||3,100 kg (6,800 lb)||5.6 kW||2014|
|GSAT-11||40||5,854 kg (12,906 lb)||13.6 kW||2018|
- Solar Sail spacecraft
- Spacecraft powered by indigenous plasma thrusters
|Country||Spacecraft (engine)||Power||Thrust||Specific impulse||Year|
|Japan||ETS-IV (Unnamed teflon pulsed plasma thruster)||20 W||300s||1981|
|Space Flyer Unit (EPEX, magnetoplasmadynamic thruster)||430 W||12.9 mN||600s||1995|
|China||Dongfeng 5 ballistic rocket (MDT-2A, teflon pulsed plasma thruster)||5 W||280s||1981|
- Spacecraft powered by indigenous ion thrusters
|Country||Spacecraft||Power||Thrust||Specific impulse||Year launched|
|Japan||Hayabusa (μ-10, microwave ion thrusters)||350 W||8 mN||3200s||2003|
|China||Shijian 9A (LIPS-200, ring-cusp magnetic field ion thruster)||1 kW||40 mN||3000s||2012|
|India||GSAT-20 (Full)||2020 (Planned)|
- Spacecraft powered by indigenous Hall thrusters
|Country||Spacecraft||Power||Thrust||Specific impulse||Year launched|
|South Korea||DubaiSat-2||0.3 kW||7 mN||1000s||2013|
|China||Shijian 17 (HEP-100MF, magnetic focusing hall thruster)||1.4 kW||1850s||2016|
|Shijian 17 (LHT-100)||1.35 kW||80 mN||1600s|
Manned spaceflight and rendezvous space docking and berthing capabilities
- First indigenous manned spaceflights
|Country||Program||First successful human spaceflight||Status|
|Project 873||1978-80||N/A||Piloted FSW satellite||Cancelled|
|India||Indian Human Spaceflight Programme||2007-present||2021 (Planned)
Before August 2022 (Scheduled)
- Independent human spaceflights
|Country||Total persons||Total flights|
- First independent extravehicular activity
- First independent Space rendezvous
|Country||Unamanned rendezvous||Manned rendezvous|
|Spacecraft involved||Year||Spacecraft involved||Year|
|China||Shenzhou 8 & Tiangong 1||2011||Shenzhou 9 & Tiangong 1||2012|
- First space habitation module
|India||Indian Space Station||~2030 (Proposed)|
- First Space laboratory
|India||Indian Space Station||~2030(Proposed)|
- Resupply spacecraft
|Country||Spacecraft||Launch payload||Year launched|
|Japan||HTV||6,000 kg (13,000 lb)||2009|
|China||Tianzhou||6,500 kg (14,300 lb)||2017|
- First orbiters to the Moon
|TBD||South Korea||Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter||2020 (Planned)|
- First intentional Moon landings
|2||India||Moon Impact Probe||2008||Controlled impact|
|3||China||Chang'e 1||2009||Controlled impact|
|Lunar Polar Exploration Mission||2024 (Planned)|
Interplanetary exploration missions
- First probes to Mercury
|TBD||Japan||Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter||2018 (en route)||Orbiter|
- First probes to Venus
|TBD||India||Shukrayaan-1||2023 (Planned)||Orbiter with aerobots|
- First orbiters to Mars
|1||India||Mars Orbiter Mission||2013|
|Mars Terahertz Microsatellite||2020 (Planned)|
|Mars Global Remote Sensing Orbiter and Small Rover||2020 (Planned)|
|TBD||United Arab Emirates||Hope Mars Mission||2020 (Planned)|
- First intentional Mars landing
|TBD||China||Mars Global Remote Sensing Orbiter and Small Rover||2020 (Planned)||Soft landing|
|TBD||India||Mars Orbiter Mission 2||2024 (Planned)||TBD|
- First Asteroid explorations
|Nation||Multi-satellite simultaneous launches||Launch of foreign satellite||Geostationary launches||Atmos-
|Rendezvous dockings in orbit||Satellite navigation system||Data relay satellites||Martian missions||Solar Space Missions||Space observatories|
Dong Fang Hong 02
Solar Space Telescope
Space Hard X-Ray Modulation Telescope
? : Date is assumed
Only projects with under-development or above status have been listed
Asian orbital launch systems
Orbital launch systems from Asian national space agencies
The list documents launch systems developed or used by national space agencies only and not private spaceflight companies.
- Under developmentOperationalRetired/Cancelled
|Launch system||Country of origin||Class and type||Payload capacity||Maiden flight||Manufacturer||Status||Ref|
|Al-Abid||Iraq||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||100 kg (220 lb) to 300 kg (660 lb) (200 km (120 mi) to 500 km (310 mi)||N/A||1989||Space Research Center, Baghdad||Abandoned|||
|Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle||India||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||150 kg (330 lb) (400 km (250 mi))||N/A||1987||ISRO||Retired|||
|Epsilon||Japan||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||1,500 kg (3,300 lb) (250 km (160 mi)x500 km (310 mi))
700 kg (1,500 lb) (500 km (310 mi))
|590 kg (1,300 lb) to 500 km (310 mi) (SSO)||2013||JAXA||In service|||
|Feng Bao 1||China||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||2,500 kg (5,500 lb)||1972||Shanghai Bureau No.2||Retired|||
|Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle||GSLV Mk I||India||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||5,000 kg (11,000 lb)||2,150 kg (4,740 lb)||2001||ISRO||Retired|||
|GSLV Mk II||5,000 kg (11,000 lb)||2,700 kg (6,000 lb)||2010||ISRO||In service|
|Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III||India||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||10,000 kg (22,000 lb)||4,000 kg (8,800 lb)||2014 (Suborbital)
|Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||3,600 kg (7,900 lb)||1,814 kg (3,999 lb) to 800 km (500 mi) SSO||N/A||JAXA/ULA/IHI||Cancelled|||
|H-I||Japan||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||3,200 kg (7,100 lb)||1,100 kg (2,400 lb)||1986||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries||Retired|||
|H-II||H-II||Japan||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||10,060 kg (22,180 lb)||3,930 kg (8,660 lb)||1994||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries||Retired|||
|H-IIA||10,000 kg (22,000 lb) to 15,000 kg (33,000 lb)||4,100 kg (9,000 lb) to 6,000 kg (13,000 lb)||2001||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries/ATK||In service|||
|H-IIB||16,500 kg (36,400 lb)||8,000 kg (18,000 lb)||2009||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries||In service|||
|H3||Japan||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||>8,000 kg (18,000 lb)||>4,000 kg (8,800 lb) to SSO (Minimum configuration)||2020 (Planned)||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries||Under development|||
|J-I||Japan||Experimental expendable launch vehicle||-||-||1,054 kg (2,324 lb) along 1,300 km (810 mi) downrange.||1996||NASDA/ISAS||Retired|||
|Jielong-1||China||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||N/A||150 kg (330 lb) to 700 km (430 mi) (SSO)||2019||CALT||In service|||
|Kaituozhe||Kaituozhe-1||China||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||100 kg (220 lb)||Not applicable||2002||CASC||Retired|||
|Kaituozhe-2||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||800 kg (1,800 lb)||2017||In service|||
|Kaituozhe-2A||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||2,000 km (1,200 mi)||Unconfirmed||Unknown|
|Kuaizhou||Kuaizhou 1||China||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||N/A||430 kg (950 lb) to 500 km (310 mi) (SSO)||2013||CASC||In service|||
|Kuaizhou-1A||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||300 kg (660 lb)||N/A||250 kg (550 lb) to 500 km (310 mi) (SSO)
200 kg (440 lb) to 700 km (430 mi) (SSO)
|Kuaizhou-11||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||1,500 kg (3,300 lb)||1,000 kg (2,200 lb) to 700 km (430 mi) (SSO)||2019-20 (Planned)||Under development|||
|Kuaizhou-21||Heavy lift expendable launch vehicle||20,000 kg (44,000 lb)||2025 (Projected)||Under development|||
|Kuaizhou-31||Super heavy lift expendable launch vehicle||70,000 kg (150,000 lb)||TBD||Under development|
|Lambda (rocket family)||Japan||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||26 kg (57 lb)||1970||ISAS/Nissan||Retired|||
|Long March 1 rocket family||Long March 1||China||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||300 kg (660 lb)||N/A||1970||MAI/CASC/CAST||Retired|||
|Long March 1D||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||930 kg (2,050 lb)||N/A||1995||CALT||Retired|||
|Long March 2||Long March 2A||China||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||2,000 kg (4,400 lb)||1974||CALT||Retired|||
|Long March 2C||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||3,850 kg (8,490 lb)||1,250 kg (2,760 lb)||1,900 kg (4,200 lb) to SSO||1982||In service|
|Long March 2D||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||3,500 kg (7,700 lb)||1,300 kg (2,900 lb) to SSO||1992||In service|
|Long March 2E||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||9,500 kg (20,900 lb)||3,500 kg (7,700 lb)||1990||In service|
|Long March 2F||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||8,400 kg (18,500 lb)||1990||In service|
|Long March 3||Long March 3||China||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||5,000 kg (11,000 lb)||1,500 kg (3,300 lb)||1984||CALT||Retired|||
|Long March 3A||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||8,500 kg (18,700 lb)||2,600 kg (5,700 lb)||1,600 kg (3,500 lb) to HCO||1993||In service|
|Long March 3B, 3B/E||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||11,500 kg (25,400 lb)||5,100 kg (11,200 lb)||3,300 kg (7,300 lb) to HCO
2,000 kg (4,400 lb) to GEO
|Long March 3C, 3C/E||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||3,900 kg (8,600 lb)||2,400 kg (5,300 lb) to HCO||2008||In service|
|Long March 4||Long March 4A||China||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||4,000 kg (8,800 lb)||1,500 kg (3,300 lb) to Sun-synchronous orbit||1988||CALT||Retired|||
|Long March 4B||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||4,200 kg (9,300 lb)||1,500 kg (3,300 lb)||2,800 kg (6,200 lb) to SSO||1999||In service|
|Long March 4C||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||4,200 kg (9,300 lb)||1,500 kg (3,300 lb)||2,800 kg (6,200 lb) to SSO||2006||In service|
|Long March 5||China||Heavy lift expendable launch vehicle||25,000 kg (55,000 lb) (200 km (120 mi) x 400 km (250 mi))||14,000 kg (31,000 lb)||8,200 kg (18,100 lb) to TLI||2016||CALT||Under development|||
|Long March 6||China||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||N/A||1,080 kg (2,380 lb) to 700 km (430 mi) (SSO)||2015||CALT||In service|||
|Long March 7||China||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||13,500 kg (29,800 lb) (200 km (120 mi) x 400 km (250 mi))||5,500 kg (12,100 lb)||2016||CALT||In service|||
|Long March 11||China||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||700 kg (1,500 lb)||350 kg (770 lb) to 700 km (430 mi) (Sun-synchronous orbit)||2015||CALT||In service|||
|Mu (rocket family)||Mu-3C||Japan||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||195 kg (430 lb)||1974||ISAS/Nissan/IHI||Retired|||
|Mu-3H||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||300 kg (660 lb)||1977||Retired|
|Mu-3S||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||300 kg (660 lb)||1980||Retired|
|Mu-3SII||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||770 kg (1,700 lb)||1985||Retired|
|Mu-4S||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||180 kg (400 lb)||1971||Retired|
|M-V||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||1,850 kg (4,080 lb)||1,300 kg (2,900 lb) to Polar LEO||1997||Retired|
|N (rocket family)||N-I|| United States
|Small lift expendable launch vehicle||1,200 kg (2,600 lb)||360 kg (790 lb)||1975||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries||Retired|||
|N-II||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||2,000 kg (4,400 lb)||730 kg (1,610 lb)||1981||Retired|||
|Paektusan-1||North Korea||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||700 kg (1,500 lb)||1998||KCST||Retired|||
|Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle||PSLV-G||India||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||3,200 kg (7,100 lb)||1,050 kg (2,310 lb)||1,600 kg (3,500 lb) to SSO||1993||ISRO||Retired|||
|PSLV-CA||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||2,100 kg (4,600 lb)||1,100 kg (2,400 lb) to SSO||2007||In service|
|PSLV-XL||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||3,800 kg (8,400 lb)||1,300 kg (2,900 lb)||1,750 kg (3,860 lb) to SSO
1,350 kg (2,980 lb) to TMI
|PSLV-DL||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||2,100 kg (4,600 lb)||1,100 kg (2,400 lb) to SSO||2019||In service|
|PSLV-QL||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||3,800 kg (8,400 lb)||1,300 kg (2,900 lb)||1,750 kg (3,860 lb) to SSO
1,350 kg (2,980 lb) to TMI
|PSLV-3S||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||500 kg (1,100 lb) (550 km (340 mi)||N/A||Concept only|
|Qonoos||Iran||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||3,500 kg (7,700 lb)||1,500 kg (3,300 lb)||2025 (Projected)||ISA||Under development|||
|Reusable Launch Vehicle||India||TSTO Reusable launch system||2016 (Flight experiment)||ISRO||Under development|||
|RPS-420||Pengorbitan-1||Indonesia||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||25 kg (55 lb)||N/A||TBD||LAPAN||Proposed|||
|Pengorbitan-2||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||50 kg (110 lb)||N/A||TBD||Proposed|
|S-Series (rocket family)||SS-520||Japan||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||100 kg (220 lb) (>300 km (190 mi)||N/A||1980||IHI Corporation||In service|||
|Safir||Iran||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||65 kg (143 lb)||N/A||2008||ISA||In service|||
|Satellite Launch Vehicle||India||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||40 kg (88 lb) (400 km (250 mi)||N/A||1979||ISRO||Retired|||
|Shavit||Israel||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||800 kg (1,800 lb)||N/A||1988||Israel Aerospace Industries||In service|||
|Simorgh||Iran||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||350 kg (770 lb)||N/A||2016 (Sub-orbital)||ISA||Under development|||
|Small Satellite Launch Vehicle||India||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||500 kg (1,100 lb) (500 km (310 mi))||N/A||300 kg (660 lb)||2020 (Planned)||ISRO||Under development|||
|TSLV||Republic of China||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||50 kg (110 lb) (700 km (430 mi))||N/A||TBD||NSPO||Under development|||
|Unha||North Korea||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||200 kg (440 lb) (465 km (289 mi) x 502 km (312 mi))||N/A||2009||KCST||In service|||
|Unified Modular Launch Vehicle||ULV with 6 x S-13 boosters||India||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||4,500 kg (9,900 lb)||1,500 kg (3,300 lb)||No earlier than 2022||ISRO||Under development|||
|ULV with 2 x S-60 boosters||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||10,000 kg (22,000 lb)||3,000 kg (6,600 lb)||No earlier than 2022||Under development|
|ULV with 2 x S-139 boosters||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||12,000 kg (26,000 lb)||4,500 kg (9,900 lb)||No earlier than 2022||Under development|
|ULV with 2 x S-200 boosters||Medium lift expendable launch vehicle||15,000 kg (33,000 lb)||6,000 kg (13,000 lb)||No earlier than 2022||Under development|
|HLV variant||Heavy lift expendable launch vehicle||20,000 kg (44,000 lb)||10,000 kg (22,000 lb)||2020s||Under development|
|SHLV variant||Super heavy lift expendable launch vehicle||41,300 kg (91,100 lb)-60,000 kg (130,000 lb)||16,300 kg (35,900 lb)||2020s||Under development|
|Uydu Fırlatma Sistemi||Turkey||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||Microsatellites (700 km (430 mi))||N/A||TBD||ROKETSAN||Under development|||
|Yun Feng SLV||Republic of China||Small lift expendable launch vehicle||200 kg (440 lb) (500 km (310 mi)||N/A||TBD||NCSIST||Under development|||
Orbital Launch Frequency
- Successful programsPlanned, defined, funded and scheduledPlanned and proposed with no clear deadline or funding or on holdAbandoned or cancelled
|Country||Program||Agency engaged||First orbital manned launch|
|Spacecraft||Term(s) for space traveler||First human(s) launched||Date||Launch system|
|People's Republic of China||Project 714 (1968–72)||Chinese space program||Shuguang-1 (Intended)||宇航员 (in Chinese)
yǔhángyuán 航天员 (in Chinese) hángtiānyuán
|N/A||N/A||Long March 2A (Intended)|
|Project 863 (1978–81)||Chinese space program||Piloted FSW (Intended)||N/A||N/A||Long March 2 (Intended)|
|Ba'athist Iraq||... (1989-2001)||Space Research Center, Baghdad||N/A||رجل فضاء (in Arabic)
rajul faḍāʼ رائد فضاء (in Arabic) rāʼid faḍāʼ ملاح فضائي (in Arabic) mallāḥ faḍāʼiy
|N/A||N/A||Tammouz 2 or 3 (Intended)|
|People's Republic of China||Project 921 (1992–present)||China National Space Administration||Shenzhou 5||宇航员 (in Chinese)
yǔhángyuán 航天员 (in Chinese) hángtiānyuán taikonaut("太空人" tàikōng rén)
|杨利伟 (Yang Liwei)||15 October 2003||Long March 2F|
|Japan||Late 1980s-2003||National Space Development Agency of Japan||HOPE-X||宇宙飛行士 (in Japanese)
uchūhikōshi or アストロノート astoronoto
|India||Indian Human Spaceflight Programme (2007–present)||Human Space Flight Centre (ISRO)||Gaganyaan||Vyomanaut/Gaganaut||TBA||December 2021 (Planned)
Before 15 August 2022 (Scheduled)
|GSLV Mk III (Planned)|
|Japan||2008–present||Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency||HTV-based spacecraft||宇宙飛行士 (in Japanese)
uchūhikōshi or アストロノート astoronoto
|Iran||Iranian manned space program (2005-2017, on hold)||Iranian Space Agency||Class E Kavoshgar spaceship||TBD||TBD||TBD|
Manned spacefaring attempts
China was first Asian country and third in the world after USSR and USA to send humans in space. As the Space Race between the two superpowers culminated to human landing on the Moon, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai decided on July 14, 1967 that the PRC should not be left behind, and therefore initiated China's own crewed space program. The top-secret Project 714 aimed to put two people into space by 1973 with the Shuguang spacecraft. Nineteen PLAAF pilots were selected for this goal in March 1971. The Shuguang-1 spacecraft to be launched with the CZ-2A rocket was designed to carry a crew of two. The program was officially cancelled on May 13, 1972 for economic reasons, though the internal politics of the Cultural Revolution likely motivated the closure.
The short-lived second crewed program was based on the successful implementation of landing technology (third in the World after USSR and United States) by FSW satellites. It was announced a few times in 1978 with the open publishing of some details including photos, but then was abruptly canceled in 1980. It has been argued that the second crewed program was created solely for propaganda purposes, and was never intended to produce results.
In 1992 under project 921, authorization and funding was given for the first phase, which was a plan to launch a crewed spacecraft. The Shenzhou program had four uncrewed test flights and two crewed missions. The first one was Shenzhou 1 on November 20, 1999. On January 9, 2001 Shenzhou 2 launched carrying test animals. Shenzhou 3 and Shenzhou 4 were launched in 2002, carrying test dummies. Following these was the successful Shenzhou 5, China's first crewed mission in space on October 15, 2003, which carried Yang Liwei in orbit for 21 hours and made China the third nation to launch a human into orbit.
The second phase of the Project 921 started with Shenzhou 7, China's first spacewalk mission. Then, two crewed missions were planned to the first Chinese space laboratory. The PRC initially designed the Shenzhou spacecraft with docking technologies imported from Russia, therefore compatible with the International Space Station (ISS). On September 29, 2011, China launched Tiangong 1. This target module is intended to be the first step to testing the technology required for a planned space station.
On October 31, 2011, a Long March 2F rocket lifted the Shenzhou 8 uncrewed spacecraft which docked twice with the Tiangong 1 module. The Shenzhou 9 craft took off on 16 June 2012 with a crew of 3. It successfully docked with the Tiangong-1 laboratory on 18 June 2012, at 06:07 UTC, marking China's first crewed spacecraft docking. A larger basic permanent space station would be the third and last phase of Project 921. This will be a modular design with an eventual weight of around 60 tons, to be completed sometime before 2020. The first section, designated Tiangong 3, is scheduled for launch after Tiangong 2. PRC aims for manned moon landing in the 2020s.
Manned spacefaring attempts
Just a few days after China said that it would send a human into orbit in the second half of 2003, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee publicly urged his country's scientists to work towards sending a man to the Moon.
Human Spaceflight Programme (HSP) was officially started in 2007 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to develop the technology needed to launch crewed orbital spacecraft into low Earth orbit. To demonstrate the ability of recovering crewed orbiters, SRE-1 was conducted in same year. GSLV Mk III launch system with ability to put 10 tonnes in LEO, sufficient to carry crewed spacecraft, was developed and work on ISRO Orbital Vehicle initiated. In December 2014, a Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment was conducted on sub-orbital flight of GSLV Mk III.
The Mysore-based Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) has developed dried and packaged food for astronauts. The food laboratory has developed around 70 varieties of dehydrated and processed food items that have undergone strict procedures to zero-in on micro bacterial and macro bacterial nutrients. Special care has to be taken in the packing and the food item should be of limited weight but at the same time should be high in nutritional qualities.
In July 2018, a pad abort test was conducted to validate crew escape system. Parachute tests are scheduled before end of 2019 and multiple in-flight abort tests are planned starting mid 2020.
On 15 August (Indian independence day) 2018, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that before India's 75th independence day in 2022, country would have sent humans in the space. Crew module mission was renamed as Gaganyaan. India is expected to send 3 humans in LEO on Gaganyaan spacecraft for 3–4 days on board a GSLV Mk III.
Before announcement in August 2018, human spaceflight was not the priority for ISRO, though most of the required capability for it had been realised. Conducting a manned spaceflight before 2022 has become highest priority after PM's announcement. Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) was set up in end January 2019 to coordinate implementation of the mission. A third launch pad is under construction at Satish Dhawan Space Centre with abilities to support heavy lift launchers and manned Spaceflight while the second one is being augmented with similar systems to realise mission on time. India's crewed orbital vehicle will have two uncrewed flights in end-2020 and mid-2021 before actually taking humans on board in end-2021. Indian astronauts will be dubbed as Vyomanauts or Gaganauts. Selected by Indian institute of Aerospace medicine, a team of seven test pilots from Indian Air Force are undergoing training in Russia per the memorandum of understanding with Glavkosmos, out of which 4 will be ready for India's first manned space mission.
India plans to deploy a 20 tonne space station as a follow-up programme of the Gaganyaan mission. On 13 June 2019, ISRO Chief K. Sivan announced the plan, saying that India's space station will be deployed in 5–7 years after completion of Gaganyaan project. He also said that India will not join the International Space Station program. The space station would be capable of harbouring a crew for 15–20 days at a time. It is expected to be placed in a low Earth orbit of 400 km altitude and be capable of harbouring three humans. Final approval is expected to be given to the programme by the Indian government only after the completion of the Gaganyaan mission.
ISRO is planning to conduct SPADEX (Space Docking Experiment) in 2020 to mature technologies related to orbital rendezvous, docking, formation flying and remote robotic arm operations, with scope of applications in human spaceflight, in-space satellite servicing and other proximity operations that will be critical for space station operations.
Iran expressed for the first time its intention to send a human to space during the summit of Soviet and Iranian Presidents in 1990. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev reached an agreement in principle with erstwhile President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to make joint Soviet-Iranian manned flights to Mir space station but agreement was never realized after dissolution of USSR.
Iranian News Agency claimed on 21 November 2005, that the Iranians have a manned space program along with plans for the development of a spacecraft and a space laboratory.  Iran Aerospace Industries Organization (IAIO) head Reza Taghipour on 20 August 2008, revealed Iran intends to launch a manned mission into space within a decade. This goal was described as the country's top priority for the next 10 years, in order to make Iran the leading space power of the region by 2021.
In August 2010, President Ahmadinejad announced that Iran's first astronaut should be sent into space on board an Iranian spacecraft by no later than 2019. A sub-orbital spaceflight was conducted back in 2016.
On 17 February 2015, Iran unveiled a mock prototype of Iranian manned spaceship that would capable of taking astronauts into space. According to Iran's Space Administrator, this program was put on hold in 2017 indefinitely.
According to unofficial Chinese internet sources, an Iranian participation in the future Chinese space station program has been under discussion. Currently Iran doesn't have a medium lift rocket similar to Long March 2F, GSLV Mk III and H-IIA. Therefore, sending a human to space is unlikely by Iran due to the lack of equipment.
According to a press-release of Iraqi News Agency of 5 December 1989 about the first (and last) test of the Tammouz space launcher, Iraq intended to develop crewed space facilities by the end of the century. These plans were put to an end by the Gulf War of 1991 and the economic hard times that followed.
Solar System exploration
Solar System exploration and manned spaceflights are major space technologies in the public eye. Since Sakigake, the first interplanetary probe in Asia, was launched in 1985, Japan has completed the most planetary exploration, but other nations are catching up.
The Moon is thought to be rich in Helium-3, which could one day be used in nuclear fusion power plants to fuel future energy demands in Asia. All three main Asian space powers plan to send people to the Moon in the distant future and have already sent lunar probes.
|Asian lunar exploration probes|
|M5||Cancelled and integrated into Russia's Luna-Glob.|
|Chang'e 1||Orbiter||2007||Long March 3A||Success|
|Chang'e 2||Orbiter||2010||Long March 3C||Success|
|2013||Long March 3B||Success|
|Chang'e 5-T1||Flyby||2014||Long March 3C||Success|
|2018-19||Long March 4C and Long March 3B||Success|
|2019||GSLV MkIII||Partial success|
|Q2 2021||GSLV MkIII||Planned|
|Chang'e 5||Sample return||Q4 2020||Long March 5||Planned|
|Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter||Orbiter||December 2020||Falcon 9||Planned|
|2020s (intended)||H-IIA (intended)||Cancelled|
|SLIM||Lander||January 2022||H-IIA 202||Planned|
|Chang'e 6||Sample return||2023-24||Long March 5||Planned|
|Lunar Polar Exploration Mission||Orbiter
|North Korean mission to Moon||TBD||2026||Unha-20||Proposed|
Probing the Moon
Japan was the first Asian country to launch a lunar probe. The Hiten (Japanese: "flying angel") spacecraft (known before the launch as MUSES-A), built by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of Japan, was launched on 24 January 1990. In many ways, the mission did not go as was planned. Kaguya, the second Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft, was launched on 14 September 2007.
China launched its first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, on 24 October 2007 and successfully entered lunar orbit on 5 November 2007.
India launched its first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, on 22 October 2008 and successfully entered its final lunar orbit on 2 November 2008. The mission was considered a major success and the probe detected water on the lunar surface.
The first confirmed Moon landing from Asia was Hiten's mission in 1993. An intentional hard landing at the end of the mission, some pictures of the lunar surface were taken before impact. Hiten was not designed as a Moon lander and had few scientific instruments for lunar exploration. The next Japanese Moon landing program was the LUNAR-A, developed from 1992. Although the LUNAR-A orbiter was cancelled, its penetrators are integrated into the Russian Luna-Glob program, which was scheduled to launch in 2011. The penetrators are "relatively" hard landers, but they are not expected to be destroyed at impact.
The first Asian probe that was part of a lunar landing program was the Indian Moon Impact Probe (MIP) released from Chandrayaan-1 in 2008. MIP was a hard lander and was designed to move the ground under for research purposes. MIP was designed to be destroyed at impact. Its instruments performed lunar observations to within 25 minutes before impact. The landing test was to be applied to future soft landings such as Chandrayaan-2, planned for 2019. However, following successful orbital insertion, ISRO lost the contact with lander-rover module which was supposed to conduct soft landing on moon and only limited success could be accomplished. After accomplishment of its first manned mission, India has proposed space stations and manned missions to Moon in long term.
The Chinese Chang'e-1 spacecraft also achieved a systematic hard landing at the end of its mission in 2009, when China became the sixth country to reach the lunar surface. One purpose of the lander was to pre-test for future soft landings. A Chinese lunar soft lander is achieved with the Chang'e-3 mission. With following Chang'e 4, PRC became world's first country to land on the far side of the Moon. China also aims to undertake a manned Moon landing by the late 2020s.
Exploration of the major planets
Japanese interplanetary probes have been mostly limited to Small Solar System bodies such as comets and asteroids. Japan was world's first country to launch a spacecraft on asteroids. JAXA's Nozomi probe was launched in 1998, but contact was lost with the probe due to electrical failures before visiting the planet Mars. The second Japanese probe for the planet Venus, Akatsuki, was launched in 2010. Akatsuki entered orbit around Venus on December 7, 2015. Together with European Space Agency, JAXA has launched Mio spacecraft to for mapping magnetic field of Mercury. Spacecraft will have flyby through Venus as well.
Chinese scientists expect that China will take 20 years to launch independent planetary probes. The Chinese manned Mars exploration program is planned for around 2050 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. After failed attempt to launch Yinghuo-1, China is planning another Mars mission with an orbiter as well as rover. Moreover, China plans to send an orbiter to Venus around 2025. China has also been planning an orbiter to Jupiter.
India has successfully launched Mars Orbiter Mission on November 5, 2013. It reached Mars in September 2014. India has become the only country to successfully insert a satellite into Martian orbit in its maiden attempt; it also became the first Asian country to achieve this feat. India is planning another mission to Mars in the 2020s. India has schedules to launch Aditya-L1 near Sun to study Solar corona and developing Shukrayaan-1 spacecraft to Venus. India is also studying exploration missions to asteroids, Jupiter and to exo-planets and beyond solar system like American Voyager 1.
|Asian interplanetary exploration probes|
|Hayabusa||Asteroid: 25143 Itokawa||Sample return||2005-7||M-V||Success|
(Failed orbiter insertion)
|Chang'e 2||Asteroid: 4179 Toutatis||Flyby||2012||Long March 3C||Success|
|Mars Orbiter Mission||Mars||Orbiter||2013-14||PSLV-XL||Success|
|Hayabusa2||Asteroid: 162173 Ryugu||Sample return||2014-20||H-IIA 202||en route|
|PROCYON||Asteroid: 2000 DP107||Flyby||2016||H-IIA 202||Failure|
|Mio||Mercury||Orbiter||2018-24||Ariane 5 ECA||en route|
|Mars Global Remote Sensing Orbiter and Small Rover||Mars||Orbiter/Rover||mid-2020||Long March 5||Planned|
|Hope Mars Mission||Mars||Orbiter||2020-21||H-IIA||Planned|
|DESTINY+||Asteroid: 3200 Phaethon||Flyby||2022-26||Epsilon||Planned|
|Shukrayaan-1||Venus||Orbiter and aerobots||2023||GSLV MkIII||Planned|
|Mars Orbiter Mission 2||Mars||Orbiter
|TBD||GSLV MkII or GSLV MkIII||Planned|
(in millions of US $)
|China National Space Administration||China||11000||2018|||
|Indian Space Research Organisation||India||1760||2020|||
|Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency||Japan||1710||2017|||
|Korean Aerospace Research Institute||South Korea||583||2016|||
|Iranian Space Agency and Iranian Space Research Center||Iran||393||2018|||
|Israel Space Agency||Israel||48|||
|Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission||Pakistan||43||2019|||
|Philippine Space Agency||Philippines||38||2019|||
|Turkish Space Agency||Turkey||4.3||2019|||
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