U.S. OPENS SPACE DOORS TO CHINA
The Chinese could become an important part of the American space program.
China has a highly-developed space program. Most rockets are launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch facility in the Gobi desert in Shanxi province in northern China or the Xichang Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan Province. Manned space flights take off from the Jiuquan launch site in the Gobi desert in Gansu and land on the plains of Inner Mongolia. The Xichang facility is where many of China’s satellites are launched. It encourages tourists to come and watch launches and has its own museum. The are plans to build a combined launch facility and theme park on a 3,000-acre site Hainan Island that will open in 2012.
The next time the U.S. will go into space will not be alone. The following missions beyond low orbit International Space Station will include Russian, European, Japanese, Canadians and even Chinese partners. At least as stated in the plan proposed by Obama administration.
The first mission will be simple like cleaning terrestrial orbit, exchange of information about the planet and climate and easy collaboration, at scientific level. Even the International Space Station could soon receive Chinese astronauts, but there are obstacles of the past in this regard.
“I think it is premature to talk about China and the Space Station,” said Jim Kohlenberger, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. ”It’s clearly a very complex political problem.” China has great potential, especially in terms of its development in recent years and the military. They have a huge advantage, namely a transmission system for low orbit missions, one thing the United States will withdraw soon.
Human space program also made its debut in China only in 2003 with the launch of the first Chinese astronaut in orbit, called the Shenzhou capsule. China just announced that it plans to build its own space station, the first module to be launched early next year.
China carries considerable baggage, including its development, sales and use of military technologies, but also a key asset: a proven space transportation system, something the United States will soon be without. Two space shuttle missions remain before the fleet is retired after 30 years of service, primarily because of high operating costs. Obama wants to buy astronauts rides on commercial carriers, but none currently exist. That leaves the United States dependent on Russia to fly astronauts to the station.”We’re rather thin in launch capabilities right now,” said Joan Johnson-Freese, who oversees the Naval War College‘s department of National Security Studies.11