The aerospace market is booming, and expected to remain in a positive direction for some time to come. Organizations across the world are investing in the advancement of myriad spacecraft and aircraft programs.
In the U.S., NASA officials have been actively partnering with commercial aerospace firms, and innovators design, develop, and test novel new aircraft platforms, both manned and unmanned. At the same time, the Russian Federal Space Agency continues to invest in space exploration—to the tune of $5.6 billion last year, in fact. China is increasing its attention on air and space vehicles, especially unmanned aircraft and rovers.
China is making its presence in the market known with the successful maiden voyage of its stealth drone Lijian, which translates to “Sharp Sword,” on 22 November 2013. Lijian, produced by Shenyang Aviation and Hongdu Aviation, looks eerily similar to the eye-catching Northrup Grumman X-47B unmanned combat aircraft system (UCAS). Will the Lijian place China firmly at the bleeding edge of the global unmanned aircraft system (UAS) market? Time will tell, certainly.
One month later, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) logged a notable aerospace milestone. CNSA’s Chang’e 3 lunar exploration mission, named after the goddess of the Moon in Chinese mythology, involves the Chang’e 3 lunar obiter and robotic lander as well as a rover named Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit.”
Chang’e 3 went into lunar orbit on 6 December 2013, and landed successfully and gently, according to all reports, on the Moon’s surface on 14 December 2013. In fact, Chang’e 3 is the first probe to soft-land on the Moon since the Luna 24 in 1976, nearly four decades ago.
This military/aerospace (mil/aero) geek loves to see organizations all over the globe working to advance aerospace technologies. Congrats!