NASA-China aeronautics cooperation

China’s development in aeronautics is laying the groundwork for future cooperation between China and NASA, according to NASA Chief Charles Bolden. Bolden was in the country recently.

“Although my visit did not include consideration of any specific proposals for future cooperation, I believe that my delegation’s visit to China increased mutual understanding on the issue of human spaceflight and space exploration, which can form the basis for further dialogue and cooperation in a manner that is consistent with the national interests of both of our countries,” Bolden said, according to

Mr. Bolden also said that he was pleased because NASA was able to meet its objectives for the trip, such as getting a better understanding of Chinese human spaceflight programs and plans, becoming acquainted with relevant Chinese space officials and institutions, and reaching a common understanding of the importance of transparency, reciprocity and mutual benefit.

The former astronaut, who had participated in four space shuttle missions, was in China for five days, during which he toured a major space launch center. Mr. Bolden met with his Chinese counterparts and discussed possible cooperation in the future. This is an important step for the development of aeronautics in both countries, and could signal a new beginning for collaboration in this industry.

The recent developments in aeronautics in China have been quite significant, and can be a signal that shows changes in the economic situation. There has been rapid development in the industry over the past two decades. In 1993, the China Aerospace Industry Corporation was founded in Beijing. Shenzhou 1 spacecraft was launched on November 20, 1999 as the country celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and was recovered after a flight of 21 hours. Also, China became the third country in the world with a successful manned space program by sending an astronaut into space aboard Shenzhou 5 on October 15, 2003 for more than 21 hours. Significant work has been done for lunar exploration as well. Chang’e 1 was launched on October 24, 2007, making China the fifth nation to successfully orbit the Moon. The development of aeronautics once again shows that China is coming to a new level with tremendous speed, and major organizations such as NASA are looking to the future with China possibly playing an important role and working together in the industry.

Mr. Bolden was not the first NASA expert to visit China. In 2006, NASA administrator Michael Griffin toured the Chinese Academy of Sciences Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics, and other places in Shanghai.

“One of the points I tried to annunciate over and over again to our meetings with various groups of people was to welcome China to the rank of space-faring nations by virtue of their ability to put people into orbit entirely on their own resources. That is a milestone accomplishment and one to be proud of,” Griffin said, according to a NASA report on its website.

He said “the International Space Station set a pattern for cooperative programs to follow.” Griffin added, “I believe someday China will be part of that.”

If 30-40 years ago was the era of the so-called “space race”, now the times have changed. Countries look to each other for cooperation in the field. If that goal is reached, much more could be achieved in the aeronautics industry.

For example, the current International Space Station that is orbiting the Earth even today is an excellent opportunity for research and development for all of the participating countries. In the future, if China, the United States and other countries would continue cooperation in the aeronautics industry, this could help to advance knowledge and have faster development.

* Ekaterina Volozova is an international reporter at M4 Media

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