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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Europe and China Seek Space Cooperation

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the China National Space Administration (CNSA)are warming to future human joint space projects if recent overtures are any indication.
 
Jean-Jacques Dordain, director general of the European Space Agency, told the Observer in an exclusive interview: "There is not a single space power left in the world that thinks they can afford to send men and women to explore the moon or Mars on their own national budget. This is something that will have to be done by international co-operation."
 
Shenzhou-9 launch
"Even the Chinese, who have so far done it on their own, are looking for partners. We are in discussions with them. Some of our astronauts are learning Chinese and there are Chinese astronauts training at our centre in Germany. We have no concrete plans as yet but it is clear that future of manned space exploration lies with international cooperation."

Chinese-European space cooperation within the next 48-months would ring-in a new era of global human space cooperation. Perhaps such effort would serve as a precursor to multinational missions which include taikonauts. The political impact in Washington may change thaw an otherwise cold atmosphere among conservative members of the US Congress.
 
Taikonaut Liu Lang in 2012
In September 2012, Thomas Reiter,  head of ESA's human spaceflight division, discussed the possibility of European astronauts riding to space alongside Chinese taikonauts before the end of the decade. The ESA, Reiter noted, is planning to slowly deepen cooperation with its Chinese counterpart and could aim for joint missions in "the second half of this decade."
 
New European astroanuts
"In fact, some of our astronauts have started Chinese language training," Reiter told the British publication The Telegraph in the fall of the year.
 
Europe and Russia have both signaled support for China to come into the International Space Station partnership. Objections, however, continue from the United States. "As I would welcome a European astronaut flying aboard a Chinese spaceship it would be of course a very, very powerful political sign to have China on board the ISS," said Reiter.

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