Prior to the Secret Space Program conference, Mr. Henrik Palmgren of Red Ice Creations radio interviewed me about the conference and other space matters, and one of the things we both talked about during that interview, was the prediction of an increase in indicators of international efforts in space. No sooner said than done, as at the end of May, the Austrian Times announced that an unusual player, one that does not normally talk in the same breath about manned missions to Mars and international efforts, has announced that it would like to be a participant in precisely such an effort:
I'll go way out on a limb here, because I suspect there's a deeply hidden agenda here on the part of Tokyo, which has seen its standing as the world's third largest economy recently been overtaken by India. The nation has also, as most are aware, been decimated by the Fukushima tragedy, and some in Japan suspect there is something very abnormal about that disaster, and they're casting their suspicions in Washington's direction. Prior to that disaster, you'll recall, there were some truly seismic political events in Japan, which brought in a new government, which appeared to be ready to try to reach out to Beijing and attempt to mend fences and ill-will between the two Asian powerhouses left over from World War Two. The new Japanese government was also strongly but politely asking Washington to close down the base on Okinawa. You'll recall that in response to this request(and probably in response to the wider context of looming rapprochement with Beijing) then US Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued to Japan a statement that amounted to little more than a direct threat that if Tokyo pressed the issue, it would regret it. Washington was not about to allow its Japanese satrapy to start thinking for itself. Who do they think they are? DeGaulle?
Then Fukushima happened.
Now, Shinzo Abe has happened, and his noises about Japanese re-militarization are understandably not too popular in Taipei, Beijing, Manilla, or New Delhi.
I suspect, however, there's a segment of interests in Japan that still maintains some hope for a saner course, which appeared to be underway prior to Mr. Gates' threats and Fukushima.
Enter space once again. Japan has sent out the smoke signals about an international mission to Mars. Normally, this would be a way to get the Europeans and NASA on the bandwagon. But so far, there are no big puffs of smoke from London or Paris or Berlin. Certainly not from Washington, which is showing all the signs of not being able to read any smoke signals any more, even if its own geopolitical house appears to be on fire. But what if the real target of the signals were New Delhi? Beijing? Moscow? A nice way to bury that World War Two hatchet: to have a Russian, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese crew as the first humans on Mars?
In other words, I suspect this is a feeler, folks, a tentative exploratory balloon. If any of those BRICSA nations answers the smoke signal, then we might be watching the beginning of yet another bizarre space chapter, with, of course, some geopolitical nations, for if Washington protests such a cooperation, or insists on running it, it will be obvious to all, especially the Japanese electorate, that American unipolarism is not serving their country very well.
See you on the flip side.