China is set to launch its Shenzhou 7 piloted space mission, a voyage showcasing that country’s increasing space prowess – but a flight that also signals the opportunity for enhanced U.S.-China cooperation in space.
The Shenzhou 7 mission will carry a crew of three, with a major task of carrying out China’s first spacewalk. Chinese space officials view this flight as a prelude of things to come, including the construction of their own space station in Earth orbit.
In 2003, China became the third country after the former Soviet Union in 1961 and the United States in 1962 to have an independent capability of sending a human into orbit. China flew a follow-on, two-person mission in 2005.
“This launch reminds us that China is well on its way to developing a robust, all around space program. When seen in the context of China’s rapid advances in the field of Earth observations and space science, this event takes on even greater meaning for the rest of the world,” said Ray Williamson, Executive Director of the Secure World Foundation.
Williamson added that it is ever more important for the United States to establish much closer scientific ties with Chinese space and Earth scientists. “This event also underscores the need for China to take a much more active role in working with the international community to secure the long term sustainability of space activities for all countries.”
Cooperative space arrangements between the U.S. and China, as with the U.S., Russia and the European Union -- especially on civil space missions -- is an ideal way to balance the playing field by building trust and respect, noted Phil Smith, Communications Director for the Secure World Foundation.
“Cooperative ventures in space, especially but not limited to civil space activities, hold the promise of spreading cost burdens, increasing trust and goodwill, welcoming partners who otherwise could not participate on their own, and producing a fertile basis for negotiating agreements on more sensitive issues,” Smith observed.
The Secure World Foundation (SWF) is a private operating foundation dedicated to the secure and sustainable use of space for the benefit of Earth and all its peoples.
SWF engages with academics, policy makers, scientists and advocates in the space and international affairs communities to support steps that strengthen global space security. We promote the development of cooperative and effective use of space for the protection of the Earth’s environment and human security.
The Foundation acts as a research body, convener and facilitator to advocate for key space security and other space related topics and to examine their influence on governance and international development.
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