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US-China space cooperation

In this week’s issue of The Space Review, Taylor Dinerman discusses the potential for cooperation between the US and China on space issues. Such cooperation might seem a bit far-fetched, given the past history between the two nations, including the “Chinagate” episode of tech transfer back during the 1990s, there are potential arenas of cooperation between the two nations, notably remote sensing. Dinerman suggests that Japan might serve as an intermediary in any cooperative efforts, although relations between China and Japan also have a rocky history. Moreover, no one, particularly in the US government, seems to be in much of a hurry to get such an effort started.

6 comments to US-China space cooperation

  • The cooperation between China and the EU on Galileo I regard as a positive, stablizing thing in the general scheme of things.

    Unfortunately, I can’t think of an example of how the US could cooperate with China in a similar way. With a Taiwan war looming in the medium term and technology transfer problems in the short term, perhaps kind words are all that’s possible for the time being.

    Of course technology transfer may cease to be a problem if China becomes our technological equal in space. Indeed, with the shortage of skilled space workers leading to huge budget overruns in current and future US space projects, how likely is it we’ll end up building spacecraft with Chinese designed and built subsystems?

  • Anonymous

    Getting Japan to talk to China is like getting the UK to talk to France.

    A better intermediary would be Hong Kong or Singapore.

  • John Malkin

    America has outsource manufacturing, software development, help desk and many other jobs, why not give up all our technical jobs to other countries so we can pay for our space exploration with McDollars.

  • Mark Zinthefer

    Hmm. This stinks of outsourcing but it’s probably too complex to slap a label on. Competition has gotten us further than cooperation but who knows… Cooperation with Russia has been a mixed blessing.

    I thought the limiting factor between US/China space cooperation was the fact that they would want advanced rocketry and we didn’t want to give it away for obvious reasons (ICBMs). Can anyone speak to this?

    ps: Mars or bust :

  • Bill White

    I thought the limiting factor between US/China space cooperation was the fact that they would want advanced rocketry and we didn’t want to give it away for obvious reasons (ICBMs). Can anyone speak to this?

    This is part of my political argument why the Pentagon would not wish the alt-spacers to achieve reliable, commercially available Earth to LEO at $100 per pound.

    If the alt-space dream were to materialize, then China (and others) could buy all the ICBMs they ever wanted at dirt cheap prices.

  • Long March is an ICBM, minus the warhead. They are very cheap relative to US and European launchers, a bit more expensive than the Russian ones. They aren’t the most reliable, but they get the job done and I presume they can be made in large numbers, as can the ICBMs they are derived from. Why do they need us? I think we will need them.

    Of course we have McCarthy to thank for part of this situation. He was responsible for deporting Tsien (a previous professor of our Caltech research group) to China, leading to the initiation of the Chinese rocket program.

    Other thanks go to ITAR, which did its job of hurting Clinton, at the great expense of our commercial satellite industry (I note Loral is now in bankruptcy, Hughes now part of Boeing, etc.)

    But the real nail in the coffin will be that we will have too few competent people to keep even national security capabilities operating at a time when China will have a glut of expertise. It’s already happening. Our costs go up as human capital and infrastructure decays: Forget NASA, have you seen the cost of space-based radar lately? Pick any current national security-related satellite project…