An American-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) could be organized to execute a contract with Virginia-based Space Adventures to purchase a $100-million USD dedicated Russian Soyuz 2012 spaceflight. The mission would be crewed by perhaps a Russian spaceflight commander/pilot cosmonaut, a Chinese taikonaut passenger, and an American commercial astronaut-diplomat -- all of distinguished careers --- to fly for a 10-day stay at the International Space Station. Such a People-to-People-like space mission would demonstrate the possibilities for multinational cooperation in human spaceflight. The concept mission would be well worth Chinese financial investment giving the civilization-state the desired recognition as an equal partner in the human exploration of space.
But there should be a second People-to-People-like mission whereby a second $100-million USD Russian Soyuz would be contracted in 2013. The purpose of the second mission would be to fly a multinational crew of a Russian spaceflight commander/pilot cosmonaut, a Chinese taikonaut passenger, and an American NASA astronaut (should 'the agency' accept the gesture). The purpose of the mission would be to rendezvous in space with a Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft at (or near) the planned Chinese space station known as Tiangong-1. There a Chinese taikonaut crew member could be exchanged between the orbiting Soyuz and Shenzhou for seperate returns from orbit. The crew-swap would constitute the first Chinese space station crew exchange.
The importance of a joint mission to the Chinese Tiangong-1 station is for the Chinese to provide 'clarity of intent' to the West, and the United States Congress more specifically, that the new spacefaring nation openly petitions to be a part of civil space exploration and discourse without hostile intent.
In 2009 this blogger visited China, read Chinese space-related literature, and listened to informed commentators. The Project 2012 concept has been vetted (through the creation of a draft paper and Power Point) with Space Adventures, US academic Chinese space experts, commercial space lawyers and space policy experts, business organizations, a member of the United States Congress, and others gaining vaired reactions.
With United States President Barack Obama clearly sending signal of his desire to cooperate with China in space, it is time to make this proposal more open and direct with the Chinese. It is time for breakthrough diplomacy in space that captures global imagination while utilizing the existing and short-term planned space assets to set the larger political foundation for government-to-government [G2G] international human space policy progress and action. The Project 2012 concept is more significant and more challenging than the Apollo-Soyuz handshake of yesteryear. The American government would not have a human-rated booster rocket in the space center stable.
Your views would be welcomed in the comment section below or in a direct connection via e-mail or cellular telephone or a 'Tweet.' It is time to think ahead of the curve and advance human space cooperation to the next level.
Think about it; John F. Kennedy did.