India In Moon Race
India's Chandrayaan spacecraft has been orbiting the Moon since Noivember. Among its 11 experiments is a mini-Synthetic Aperture Radar that gives us a first look inside the permanently shadowed polar craters. Chandrayaan has been slow to return data due to a heating problem. Because the extreme temperatures encountered while circling the Moon, the spacecraft is in constant danger of overheating. To compensate, the electronics are run for minimal periods, making science data scarce.
Despite the small setbacks, India continues to plan for human spaceflight. They hope to send humans into orbit by 2014 and to the Moon by 2020, four years ahead of Chinese plans. If the US does not keep up the effort, India could beat them too. Above is the plan of their spacecraft--note the docking port for other spacecraft like ISS.
With all the media attention given to China, it is easy to forget that India's economy is growing as quickly and its population even faster. By the middle of the century India could be the world's most populous nation; it is already the largest democracy. Conceivably India could someday be the largest economy too. A large and educated population could support a large Space program.