Elon Musk, founder of Spacex, speaks at a news conference at the National Press Club in 2011.

Elon Musk, founder of Spacex, speaks at a news conference at the National Press Club in 2011.

For those with deep enough pockets and spirit of adventure, Space X founder Elon Musk is on the cusp of sending private citizens deeper into space than any human has ventured before. Another American entrepreneurial first, but the real space race is taking place in Asia.

In February, India’s space agency launched more than 100 satellites from a single rocket. That set a new record and underlined India’s determination to build on its successful Mars orbiter mission.

India, China and Japan have all outlined bold space exploration plans. Smaller powers, like South Korea, also want to get in on the act with ambitions of their own. The United Arab Emirates has announced a plan to colonize Mars in the next 100 years, and probably has the money to pay for it.

These newer players bring back echoes of the Cold War space race of the mid-20th century. A pursuit of science and technological advancement coupled with national prestige and attraction of being first.

1A considers where US space program might be going and who else has their sights set on our solar system and beyond.


  • Joel Achenbach Science and politics reporter, The Washington Post
  • Tariq Malik Managing editor, Space.com
  • Sarah Ballard Torres Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT

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