JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Houston--The United States and China have agreed to discuss expanded cooperation in space science and to start a "dialogue" on human space flight and exploration, according to a joint statement released in Beijing on Tuesday. The U.S.-China Joint Statement said both nations looked forward to reciprocal visits by the NASA administrator and appropriate Chinese space leaders in 2010.
"The United States and China look forward to expanding discussions on space science cooperation and starting a dialogue on human space flight and space exploration, based on the principles of transparency, reciprocity, and mutual benefit," the joint statement said. "Both sides welcome reciprocal visits of the NASA administrator and the appropriate Chinese counterpart in 2010."
John Logsdon, a space policy analyst at George Washington University, said expanded cooperation makes sense, but only if both sides are open with each other and share the technical data necessary to ensure safe operations.
"I think it's great," he said in a telephone interview. "It opens the door to see whether, in fact, there's a basis for cooperation. I think the operative word in there is 'transparency.' If China is willing to provide the information we need to work with them and vice versa--they were the ones who have been somewhat reticent to do that--I think it makes total sense."
The future direction of the U.S. manned space program is unclear as NASA waits for the Obama administration to make a decision on how the agency should proceed after the space shuttle is retired next year.… Read more