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You could consider them trial balloons, in the juggernaut jargon of Washington, D.C. politics.

The prospect that China may be invited to climb onboard the International Space Station seems airborne for discussion.

Apollo-Soyuz link-up: On July 17, 1975 two Cold War-rivals met in space.  Credit: NASA

Apollo-Soyuz link-up: On July 17, 1975 two Cold War-rivals met in space.
Credit: NASA

No telling, but perhaps the overtures are just in time for the 40th anniversary of the joint Apollo-Soyuz (U.S.-Russia) mission in 1975 this coming July?

My colleague, co-author of Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin, is a firm supporter of this idea. Check out the just-released paperback with a new, special essay.

Inside Space City

There are a number of opinion pieces, broadcasts, and reports worth reading about such a possibility.

For example, take a view of “Inside Space City,” a world exclusive CNN interview with three of China’s top astronauts with one Chinese astronaut calling for cooperation, access to International Space Station.

Go to:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/28/asia/china-space-mckenzie/index.html

Also, take a read of “The Silly Reason the Chinese Aren’t Allowed on the Space Station,” by Jeffrey Kluger, Editor at Large for TIME magazine.

Go to:

http://time.com/3901419/space-station-no-chinese/#3901419/space-station-no-chinese/

Chinese space travelers in training. Credit: CMSE

Chinese space travelers in training.
Credit: CMSE

 

Divergent views

Should the United States cooperate with China in Space? That question is explored by a recent paper, authored by Ronald Turner of Analytic Services Inc.

This paper explores the rationales behind the two divergent views on U.S.-China cooperation in space, and suggests that limited engagement with the Chinese, through NASA, would benefit the United States.

Turner flags two specific near-term objectives that should be considered by the United States:

— Join the European Space Agency in ongoing discussions with the Chinese for joint space science in the next five years

— Invite a Chinese astronaut to the International Space Station

This paper is available at:

http://www.anser.org/babrief-us-china-space-coop

The International Space Station: Open airlock for Chinese space travelers? Credit: NASA

The International Space Station: Open airlock for Chinese space travelers?
Credit: NASA

China Dream, Space Dream

China’s progress in space technologies and implications for the United States is explored in a study by the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC).

Authored by Kevin Pollpeter, Eric Anderson, Jordan Wilson, and Fan Yang of the IGCC, they point out that “although China’s space program may pose challenges for the United States and its space power neighbors, it may also present opportunities for scientific collaboration on the Earth’s environment and outer space. In addition, it may make human spaceflight safer by providing additional capabilities to rescue stranded or imperiled astronauts through the use of common docking apparatus.”

This paper can be found here:

http://origin.www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Research/China%20Dream%20Space%20Dream_Report.pdf

Bottom line

Meanwhile, China is readying the Tiangong-2 space lab to be lofted around 2016, say Chinese space officials.

China's space station in the 2020s. Credit: CASC

China’s space station in the 2020s.
Credit: CASC

Once that facility is in Earth orbit it will be followed by a piloted Shenzhou-11 spacecraft and first use of the Tianzhou cargo craft to rendezvous with and support lab operations.A core module for a larger space station is also on China’s agenda, to be lofted around 2018. That station is expected to be completed around 2022.

Back to orbiting olive branches between two space powers.

There’s a possible bottom line to all this: A convergence of coincidence or a lead-lined trial balloon that’s DOL – “doomed on liftoff?”

You be the judge and please share your opinions!

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