Orbital Human Space Launch
Human Space Launch From Other Countries
Although Japan and India have both expressed interest in developing human spaceflight capabilities, neither has yet demonstrated strong commitment toward that goal. Japan is in early stage feasibility studies for its own crewed spacecraft, which would not be expected to fly before 2022. India identifies development of a human spaceflight program as an objective within its Five-Year Plan. However, specific details are sparse; India just states that it will focus on development of the technologies and systems necessary to support a human spaceflight program at some point.
In addition to government human spaceflight efforts, some companies are developing commercial systems for orbital human spaceflight. Several American companies have shown an interest in orbital human spaceflight to serve both government and commercial customers. SpaceX has designed its Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon capsule to be able to support human missions, although that is not a requirement under the terms of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program run by NASA. Orbital Sciences, the other U.S. company with a funded COTS agreement, has expressed interest in developing a crewed version of its Cygnus cargo spacecraft that would be able to carry three or four astronauts.
In 2006, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced plans to develop a human-rated version of its proposed GSLV Mark 3 vehicle. The vehicle, whose maiden launch is proposed for 2015, would be capable of carrying a crew capsule to LEO. Additionally, in January 2007, ISRO successfully launched and retrieved the Space Recovery Experiment, the nation’s first recoverable spacecraft, demonstrating the reentry and recovery technologies required for a future human-rated spacecraft.