Aspiring to be a leader in space exploration by 2020, Vietnam started design work this week on its first space center in a Hanoi technology park. The $700 facility is a partnership with Japan and is financed largely using Japanese aid. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2014, and the first Vietnamese satellite is scheduled to go into five years.
So far, Vietnam’s science ministry has sent 24 Vietnamese engineers to Japan, soon to be followed by 100 others to study space technology at five Japanese universities. In all, 350 engineers and scientists are to be trained.
Vietnam considers itself a generation behind developed countries in space technology, although a Vietnamese astronaut took part in a cosmic flight in 1980.
The Japan-Vietnam space connection is an example of a lost, or perhaps delayed, opportunity for American companies that lead the world in space technology.
More on Vietnam’s space aspirations