US rethinks cooperation with China in space

 作者:楚呃     |      日期:2018-02-20 08:01:03
By New Scientist Space and AFP The US says it is reevaluating possible space cooperation with China, including joint Moon exploration, following Beijing’s recent anti-satellite weapon test. China’s test of a satellite-killing missile last month was “inconsistent” with an agreement between US President George W Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao to forge cooperation in the civil space area, the US State Department said on Friday. “Any future civil space cooperation with China will need to be evaluated within the context of China’s ASAT (anti-satellite) test,” department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said. Washington has protested the test both to China’s US ambassador and to the foreign ministry in Beijing and has asked for an explanation of exactly what occurred. It is concerned that the test, which destroyed one of China’s own orbiting satellites with a ballistic missile, has scattered debris in space that could endanger the manned International Space Station and orbiting satellites (see Anti-satellite test generates dangerous space debris). Vasquez’s comments come as China launched an experimental navigation satellite into space early on Saturday, the nation’s first space launch since the 11 January satellite-killing missile test. The Beidou (Big Dipper) satellite was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launching Centre in southwest China’s Sichuan province aboard a Long March 3-A rocket. It was successfully placed into its planned orbit, China’s Xinhua news agency said. Vasquez said that during Hu’s visit to the US last April, he and Bush agreed to explore the possibility of some cooperation in civil space exploration, including lunar missions. “Immediately following China’s ASAT test, the concerns we raised with China included our view that the test was inconsistent with the two presidents’ agreement to seek cooperation in the civil space area,” Vasquez said. The test made China only the third country in the world – after the US and the former Soviet Union – to down an object in space. Over the past several years, NASA’s “bilateral interactions” with China had been very limited because of “government-to-government issues”, said Jason Sharp, spokesman for NASA. “No bilateral discussions were ongoing or planned either before or after China’s anti-satellite test.” Washington has been “pretty strong” in meetings with Beijing over the test, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters on Wednesday. China was told “that they needed to come clean fully in public as to what the data (were) concerning this test, what the motivations behind the test were, what their plans were for future such tests, and how this squared with their stated policy of not wanting to militarise space,” McCormack said. Beijing has long sought closer cooperation with the US on space but Washington has been lukewarm because of concerns about the involvement of China’s military in its space programme. In September 2006, however, NASA chief Mike Griffin became the first agency head to visit China to discuss possible cooperation in space (see NASA officials to make historic trip to China). China entered the exclusive rank of top space nations in 2003 when it sent up its first manned mission, joining the US and Russia. In 2005, it launched a second orbiting mission with two astronauts, and also hopes to send an unmanned probe to the Moon by 2010. China spends $500 million a year on its space programme, according to official figures. NASA’s proposed budget for 2007 is nearly $17 billion. Weapons Technology – Keep up with the latest innovations in our cutting edge special report. More on these topics: