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Monday, July 27, 2009

Is it Time to include China in International Human Space Effort? Some think so.

China is methodically building advanced space hardware for their own space station to be lofted to space sometime in the fall of next year, it will be sending the Asian nation's first interplanetary probe to Mars next year, the Chinese space agency will select its first female space-goers from a pool of 16 pilots next year; and it is planning further robot probes to the Moon as well. Clearly, China is building national pride in what is proving to be a solid national space program.

Already there are hints of Sino-American diplomatic space efforts within Washington political circles with discussion of the inclusion of China in the International Space Station partnership and perhaps seeking the opportunity to loft an American astronaut aboard a Chinese-made space capsule in the years ahead. Efforts to cooperate in space with the Chinese should be given serious attention by President Barack Obama some now say.

After seeing a full-scale mock-up of the Shenzhou/Long March 2F booster in Beijing this month, this blogger is impressed by the technology the Chinese are seeking to employ and develop for routine space access. Inquiry as to space facility tours in China by Americans now appears to be problematic however. Chinese officals will allow visits to the Xichang space launch facilities but as of yet will not agree to foreign nationals to visit the Jiuquan Space Launch Center where the Chinese boost their astronauts to space.

To build space cooperation between the United States and the Chinese, perhaps Washington insiders should seek to enable:
  1. The launch of a Chinese astronaut to the International Space Station prior to the end of the space shuttle program next year; and, in return, the launch of an American astronaut on Shenzhou/Long March 2F in 2011 or 2012 to jump start greater space flight coperation for the coming decade.

  2. The Chinese should enable more transparency at the Jiuquan Space Launch Center and enable foreign nationals to tour the human space launch facilities and bear witness to the Shenzhou/Long March 2F human-rated space launches while in turn allowing the Chinese space tourists to witness civil space flight launches at the Kennedy Space Center in a People-to-People-like space launch exchange.

  3. The international space station partners should commence enabling the Chinese a birthing port at the orbiting lab and invite Chinese investment in the facility in the years ahead. The more capability to re-supply and provide two-way transport by humans to the $100-billion facility increases the return on investment in tangable and intangable ways to all of the international partners by adding the Chinese to the space access portfilio.


Anonymous said...

You forgot the most important condition:

2.5) China shall provide NASA and RosCosmos personnel with a level of insight and transparency for Shenzhou comparable to that provided by ESA for ATV, and by JAXA for HTV, to certify the safety of Shenzhou for ISS joint flights.

And 3) should be modified as follows:

3) Shenzhou shall conform to post-shuttle docking/berthing standards (LIDS, CBM, Russian probe & drogue). China shall purchase qualified mechanisms from their respective vendors (Boeing, Energia) at their own expense.

akinkhoo said...

it now 2013, and after 2 flight to their space station, we know there is not much need to qualify it since it use the exact some docking adaptor as the soyuz. it is fully compatible as it stand now.