Here we profile space programs in Japan, Brazil, India and Europe. To read about space programs in the United States, visit our web page on NASA and our Company Profiles. To read about space programs in Russia, visit our web page on the Russian Space Agency.
A Japanese flag. Public domain (link).
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency or JAXA is the main space program of Japan. JAXA was founded in 2003, on October 1. It was formed by three companies: the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL), and the National Space Development Agency (NASDA). The ISAS was formed in 1964 and launched a series of 26 satellites from 1970 to 2003, before forming JAXA. NASDA was formed in 1969 and built satellites, rockets, and trained Japanese astronauts. The former NASDA site is found on Tanegashima Island. NAL mostly worked on aviation research. JAXA head quarters are currently located in Chofu, Tokyo; it also has agencies in Hatayama and Tanegashima. Keiji Tachikawa was in charge of Japan's space program. How much money does it have? It has an annual budget of about: 1,400,000,000 euros. JAXA has resources like the old NASDA agency and information from NAL and ISAS. Before JAXA, ISAS was successful in X-ray astronomy and solar observation. JAXA has also launched a lunar exploration probe. Additionally,, it has launched a mission called Hayabusa onto a near comet. Hayabusa has collected samples of the comet and is scheduled to return to Earth by 2010. ISAS has launched many successful satellite launches. They have also worked in rocketry and different kinds of probes. Some other capabilities of JAXA are X-ray astronomy, solar sails, and lunar observation. One plan is to work on improving their solar sail mission and have it ready to launch to Jupiter by at least 2010.
On February, 10, 1994, the Brazilian Space Agency, which was currently in command of the military, was given to civilian hands and became independent. Sergio Gaudenzi is in charge of the BSA and the agency's budget is $100 million. The Brazilian Space Agency has succeeded in launching Marcos Pontes to be the first Brazilian in space. Pontes stayed in the International Space Station for a week. On October 23, 2004, the BSA successfully launched its first rocket into space.
The space program of India is called the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). In 1972 India started its space program to launch satellites. The prime minister of India had seen and learned about Sputnik and realized the advantage of having satellites. That is how the ISRO was founded. The headquarters of the IRSO are in Bangalore, India. The agency is headed by G. Madhaven Nair and has a budget of $815 million (U.S.). Starting in the 1980s, ISRO has launched many satellites. The ISRO can launch sounding rockets, communicate and keep connection with satellites, and Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian in space in 1984. Right now ISRO is working on improving and sending up more satellites.
European Space Agency
Probes to planets and a fleet of launchers: That is what the European space program is interested in, along with many other things. ESA (European Space Agency) has satellites and telescopes to help it explore space. Here is more information about it.
The European Space Agency (ESA), whose headquarters are in Paris, France, was founded in 1974. European leaders saw Sputnik and realized they had to work on a space program so they could match the two super powers (America and the Soviet Union) in space exploration. Europe created two different space programs: ELDO and ESRO. They both functioned well until they combined in 1974 to make ESA. The current administrator of ESA is Jean-Jacques Dordain.
ESA has several great accomplishments including helping with the launch of the first space telescope and exploring Halley’s comet. Over the years ESA has been and still is partners with many countries such as Russia and Austria. ESA has also succeeded in launching rockets, satellites, and missions.
Marie-Lan Nguyen, Public domain (link).
For a long time it's been said that ESA wants to build a complete fleet of launching vehicles to launch at short notice. These would consist of Ariane 5, Soyuz, and Vega designs. Soyuz launchers have payloads of 3 metric tons and are made by the Russian Space Agency. ESA has formed a partnership with Russia so they can easily manufacture launchers. This partnership dictates that ESA also can use the old Soyuz shuttle to someday send human passengers into space. In return, Russia has access to the Kourou launch site in Europe.
The Ariane 5 is a top launcher that has payloads of 6-10 tons and can lift up to 21 metric tons. It was made to replace Ariane 1, 2, 3, and 4. After a single failure in a test flight, Ariane 5 made 10 successful launches. Vega is one of the smaller launchers and has a payload capacity of 1.5 tons. ESA is also trying to make a kind of mini-shuttle, called Hermes. Hermes would take people into space.
At first when it was created, ESA planned to specialize in non-manned space flights and missions. It did not think much about manned space flight. Still, eventually, Ulf Merbold became the first ESA astronaut in space when he was flew a space shuttle.
Since it was created, ESA has worked on and completed many projects. One large one was working on the ISS. Artemis, ESA’s strongest telecommunication satellite, Corot, a telescope for larger, rocky planets, and Cluster, a probe, are just a few of ESA’s accomplishments. ESA has launched over 15 satellites as well as probes and telescopes. Plans for future launches are in the works. They include probes to Mercury and the mysterious KEO, a satellite filled with messages to people in the future. KEO is like a time capsule and is expected to return to Earth in 52006
One of ESA’s main projects is the space lab Columbus. Columbus was carried to the ISS in February 2008 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. Columbus is the ISS's first permanently crewed lab.
ESA will still keep running and launching more shuttles and rockets in the future.