When it all started, the stated aim of space programs was an exploration of outer space. But as time passed real intentions came to the fore. Today the USA has two separate space programs. The civilian space program is run by NASA while the military space program is run by the United States space force and United States space command. The United States is not the only country that has space programs. Many developing countries apart from developed countries have space programs. The military space program is also not unique to the USA. Countries are running space programs in collaboration with other countries. The international space station is a prime example of international cooperation in running space programs. One country launching a satellite of another country is usual stuff now.
Generally, space agencies are run by governments but numerous private companies also boast of space programs. Numerous countries have their own space agencies but the difference is in degree of competence. The European space agency is unique in the sense that it is one of the most advanced space agencies not run by any one country but by multiple European countries jointly as an intergovernmental organization. Launch capability is the competency without which running a space program of significance is not feasible. Today government space agencies of not one or two but about 20 countries apart from ESA have launch capability. Space agencies of five countries and the ESA has extraterrestrial exploration capability. Human spaceflight capability is still not possessed by space agencies of too many countries. NASA is leading the bunch of space agencies with CNSA as a distant second, as far as budget is concerned.
Timeline of space missions
Few would be aware that the first rocket to reach outer space WAC Corporal was launched in 1946 by the USA. In 1957 first ICBM was developed by the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union sent the first artificial satellite Sputnik 1 in 1957. Vostok 1 and Vostok 6 took the first man and the first woman in space respectively in 1961 and 1963 respectively.
Apollo 11 took the first human to the moon. Many space missions are in the pipeline even now. Private players have also jumped in.
Space missions of developing world
The developing world is not lagging behind in sending space missions. The Indian space program has got due recognition. It all started with humble Aryabhatta in 1975 but today manned mission is being planned. India has already launched a Mars orbiter mission.
Indian space agency ISRO has launch capability and has launched satellites from many countries apart from India.
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