Academician Boris Chertok, renowned Russian rocket designer and engineer, is the editor of a newly released book on astronautics in the 21st century, an attempt to forecast space developments from the present to 2101. At a 1 June 2010 Kennan Institute lecture, Yuri M. Baturin, Pilot-Cosmonaut, Russian Federation, Former Research Scholar, Kennan Institute, and contributor to the volume, outlined some of the long-term forecasts made by the 40 writers of the book.

The book's authors took into account the geoeconomic and geostrategic structure of the world, the interference of possible unforeseen events, and even some science fiction logic (two Russian science fiction writers were invited to participate). Stressing that the book was a forecast, not a prediction, Baturin said that the United States will continue to dominate in international relations and remain superior in space activity over the next decade. However, by early 2050 the unipolar world will turn bipolar as China emerges to rival the United States' superpower status.

The authors forecasted that militarization of space will begin within the next twenty years, with possible bases on the moon established by both the U.S. and China. Militarization will likely lead to the first and only space war of the 21st century. A decade or so later, missions to Mars will be successful and a manned solar laboratory in heliocentric orbit will be launched. Finally, by the beginning of the 22nd century, the book forecasts what Baturin called a "shocking event": the creation of an automatic space pilot robot – a product of artificial life rather than the robotics we are familiar with today.

By Larissa Eltsefon
Blair Ruble, Director, Kennan Institute