Asia’s Space Race: National Motivations, Regional Rivalries, and International Risks

In This Review

Asia's Space Race: National Motivations, Regional Rivalries, and International Risks (Contemporary Asia in the World)
By James Clay Moltz
Columbia University Press, 2011
288 pp. $35.00

Space programs are surprisingly common across Asia, although not all of them are technologically advanced. China seeks to ban weapons in outer space but meanwhile has developed antisatellite and manned space flight capabilities. Japan has long had the region’s most sophisticated space program for peaceful purposes, but in 2008, the Japanese parliament lifted a ban on the use of space for defense. India’s space program has also adopted a more militaristic orientation, building satellites for reconnaissance, intelligence, and navigation, with potential applications for missile defense. South Korea’s space program is a latecomer, developed largely in cooperation with other states and spurred in part by the need for surveillance of North Korea’s missile activity. Smaller space programs exist in nearly a dozen other nations in the region, making Asia a new epicenter of space activity. Moltz deftly melds technological expertise with history and political analysis. He warns that the region’s competitive dynamic is bringing military applications to the fore instead of peaceful activities such as geographic sensing, weather forecasting, and telecommunications.

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