NASA chides China — Analysis
The US agency’s chief has complained that Beijing isn’t cooperating with Washington on space ventures
NASA chief Bill Nelson has scolded the Chinese space program for refusing to work with the US on its operations, saying Beijing’s secrecy has created unnecessary risks.
“We simply have not been able to get any kind of transparency from the Chinese space program,”Nelson spoke to reporters Tuesday. He made his comments in a press briefing ahead of Wednesday’s successful SpaceX launch of a rocket carrying a new astronaut crew to the International Space Station.
Nelson has often warned about a new space race with China, and repeatedly called for cooperation between NASA and China’s space program. On Tuesday, Nelson lamented that Beijing had not cooperated with NASA. He cited an example from April 2021 when Chinese officials refused to share data with other countries. This was after a booster carrying a space station module in orbit returned to earth.
China to build space ‘defense system’
“They didn’t reserve enough fuel to have a controlled re-entry, and thank the Good Lord it came down in the Indian Ocean,”Nelson was recalled. “But it could have come down in Europe, it could have come down in Saudi Arabia, it could have come down in Greece.” He added that NASA engineers were forced to make their own calculations of the booster’s track back toward Earth.
While we desire cooperation with Chinese people, there is no way to do it without two.
Nelson declared NASA in the face of lack thereof “will deal with it as it progresses.”But he previously admitted that NASA follows a 2011 law which prohibits it from collaborating with any China-affiliated organisations or the Chinese government without prior approval by Congress. Chinese officials have pointed to that ban, called the Wolf Amendment, as “unfortunate” and an impediment to direct cooperation with NASA.
China isn’t a member of the International Space Station (ISS) program. NASA called on Russia to keep the ISS operational and continue its relationship with Russia until 2030. Current ISS agreements between NASA and Roscosmos run through 2024.
Nelson declared Tuesday that NASA was “completely dead”. “the Good Housekeeping seal of approval from the White House” to extend the collaboration to 2030, despite rising geopolitical tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He cited past cooperations with Moscow that began with the Apollo Soyuz docking of 1975 and the lasting friendships that were formed.
“Despite the horrors that we are seeing with our eyes daily on television of what’s happening in Ukraine as a result of political decisions that are being made by the president of Russia, despite all of that, despite a war going on in Ukraine, I see that professional relationship with astronauts and cosmonauts and the ground teams in the two respective mission controls, I see that continuing,”Nelson.
An earlier report by the US Defense Intelligence Agency, (DIA), suggested that Russia and China are pursuing an alliance to control global affairs. “undercut US and allied global leadership in the space domain.”The DIA stated that both nations are increasing their space-based military capabilities. They view this domain as vital to win modern wars. The report said that China might use space-based technology as a way to block US radars or jam complex weapons systems.
Last month, the European Space Agency (ESA), suspended a Mars mission to Russia and stopped cooperating with Moscow. Speaking at Tuesday’s NASA press briefing, ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said his 28-nation group may undertake the ExoMars rover mission on its own or seek another partner, such as NASA, in lieu of working with Russia.
“What I want to get out of this crisis is really to make sure that we build up a robust space industry and space infrastructure – robust in the sense that we are hedging our missions and our activities against this type of thing,”He stated.