Other Free Encyclopedias » Science Encyclopedia » Science & Philosophy: Adam Smith Biography to Spectroscopic binary » Manned Spacecraft - Ongoing Debate: Crewed Vs. Uncrewed Flight, Overview, One-person Crewed Spacecraft, Two- And Three-person Spacecraft - Technical requirements of crewed spacecraft

Manned Spacecraft - Overview

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For the first four decades of the modern space era, two nations—the United States and the Soviet Union (now the Russian Federation)—have dominated crewed space travel. In 1987, the European Space Agency committed itself to participation in future crewed space programs, some operated independently and some in cooperation with the United States and Russia. Japan and Canada later made similar commitments. However, as of March 2003, no country other than the U.S. and Russia had yet demonstrated an ability to put its own crewed spacecraft into orbit with its own rockets. (Japan, China, and the European Union produce rockets that can loft uncrewed spacecraft into orbit and beyond; Japan has launched its own space probe to Mars.) As mentioned above, the U.S.Russian monopoly on crewed space flight will soon be over soon if the Chinese space program proceeds according to plan; China is close to putting astronauts into orbit (with an announced launch scheduled by the end of 2003), and has proclaimed its intention of eventually landing on the Moon and Mars as well.

The history of crewed space programs in both Russia and the United States consisted of a number of steps that led to the possibility of placing humans in orbit around the Earth or on the Moon. These steps were necessary in order to solve the many complex problems involved in keeping humans alive in outer space and bringing them back to Earth unharmed.

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