US, China mull limited space co-op
Updated: 2006-09-25 22:06
BEIJING - The US space agency (NASA) and China's civilian space programme are
considering working together on some projects, but joint missions into space are
still a long way off, the agency's head said on Monday.
Michael Griffin, the first National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) administrator to visit China, welcomed the country to "the fraternity of
space-faring nations" at a news briefing in Beijing.
NASA administrator Michael Griffin (L), NASA astronaut
Shannon Lucid share a light moment during a roundtable talk with reporters
at the US Embassy press center in Beijing Monday, Sept. 25, 2006. Griffin
was in Beijing on Monday for talks with Chinese officials that China's
government hopes will lead to cooperation in space exploration.
He said the two programmes were considering holding annual meetings, and that
areas for working together could include earth science, climate research, data
sharing and robotics.
"But collaboration on human missions would be well down the road. This is
only the first step," said Griffin.
China put its first man in space aboard the Shenzhou V in 2003 and completed
its second manned space mission last October. State media have said it aims to
put a man on the moon around 2017.
Griffin added that the United States had no immediate plans to ask China to
join the International Space Station (ISS) programme, on which the United States
cooperates with 14 other countries -- Canada, Japan, Russia and 11 participating
member nations of the European Space Agency.
"The partnerships that led to the development of the ISS are well
established. I do not propose to change any of those arrangements at the present
time," he said.
Griffin also stressed that key differences remained between the United States
and China on certain aspects of their space programmes.