Obama Sees China as a Partner in Mars Mission

While the U.S. is winding down its space shuttle program, NASA’s next major feat may be done collaboratively with the Chinese. From MSNBC:

Testifying May 4 before the House Appropriations subcommittee on commerce, justice and science, White House science adviser John Holdren said near-term engagement with China in civil space will help lay the groundwork for any such future endeavor. He prefaced his remarks with the assertion that human exploration of Mars is a long-term proposition and that any discussion of cooperating with Beijing on such an effort is speculative.

“(What) the president has deemed worth discussing with the Chinese and others is that when the time comes for humans to visit Mars, it’s going to be an extremely expensive proposition and the question is whether it will really make sense — at the time that we’re ready to do that — to do it as one nation rather than to do it in concert,” Holdren said in response to a question from Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., a staunch China critic who chairs the powerful subcommittee that oversees spending.

Holdren, who said NASA could also benefit from cooperating with China on detection and tracking of orbital debris, stressed that any U.S. collaboration with Beijing in manned spaceflight would depend on future Sino-U.S. relations.

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