Congress has banned partnerships between NASA and China since 2011, but the chief of the agency says it's only temporary.
The United States could soon be excluded from future missions to send astronauts into space if it doesn’t lift the ban on entering new partnerships with Chinese researchers. According to a report from Reuters, NASA chief Charles Bolden urges U.S. officials to consider permitting collaboration between the two countries’ space agencies.
Congress instated a ban on partnerships with China in 2011 citing human rights and national security concerns. NASA officials believe this is a bad idea if we want to stay on the forefront of space exploration.
China is not currently a member of the partnership of fifteen countries that owns and operates the International Space Station, which flies about 250 above the surface of the Earth. According to Bolden, working with China will be essential in the future.
“The reason I think that where we are today is temporary is because of a practical statement that we will find ourselves on the outside looking in, because everybody… who has any hope of a human spaceflight program… will go to whoever will fly their people,” Bolden told a panel at the International Astronautical Congress.
According to Xu Dazhe, an administrator at the China National Space Agency, “We certainly hope that this temporary timeframe can be shortened. China has no difficulties in our cooperation policies with other agencies.”
China is the only country other than the U.S. and Russia to send people into orbit, and has landed a number of probes on the moon.
Cooperation between the two countries could lead to faster development in space exploration research, and could ultimately benefit the goal of sending humans beyond the Earth.