China-US Space Pact Not Expected in 2011

The prospects for cooperation between the United States and China in space are fading even as proponents say working together in the heavens could help build bridges in often-testy relations on Earth, writes Jim Wolf for Reuters.

Chinese President Hu Jintao will visit with American President Barack Obama in Washington January 19, 2011. Continued dialogue on space cooperation appears to have too much political resistance within the Congress to be a serious agenda item.

Congressman Frank Wolf, (R-Va.), the incoming House appropriations subcommittee chair over NASA funding, has been a strong China critic and human rights firebrand for a number of years. Yet at the same time, Wolf is now in the best position to make a significant difference to shape US-Chinese space policy, if any.

An expansion of the international space rescue agreement to include on-orbit human spaceflight will become more apparent in the years ahead. With a number of American commercial space firms planning to launch people to space in this decade, there are only three nations with the capacity to make human rescues in space: Russia, China and the United States. International space rescue protocols are essential in the years ahead.

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