Nasa chief backs China-US teamwork

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 November, 2011, 12:00am


China and the United States could work together in space science and exploration, Nasa chief Charlie Bolden says, according to

Collaboration in space could help bridge the divide between the two while potentially benefiting both, Bolden told a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, a day after China launched its unmanned Shenzhou VIII space vessel.

Two days later, China successfully performed its first remote orbital docking between Shenzhou 8 and the experimental satellite Tiangong I. It is seen as a milestone in the country's quest to build a space station by 2020.

Co-operation between Nasa and the Chinese space programme is currently minimal. A provision in this year's budget resolution by Republican congressman Frank Wolf bars the use of federal funds for bilateral science exchanges with China.

Wolf cited China's latest success and reiterated there should be no teamwork given Beijing's potential aspirations to global military supremacy and its record on human rights.

Bolden, a former US Marine Corps major general and astronaut, said Nasa would abide by the law, but he would be in favour of carefully controlled exchanges with China, as space flight and space exploration have become increasingly collaborative enterprises. The US and China could start working together on space debris mitigation, disaster management and planetary science projects, he said.