China Expands Space Power Through International Cooperation

As the Chinese space program has grown more powerful, the nation is steadily increasing its bilateral and multilateral cooperation with other nations and international bodies. A white paper on China’s space program released by the government today provides a summary of some of the more prominent cooperative activities.

Although China’s international outreach does not seem to be as broad as NASA’s activities, the emerging space power has forged links with most of the world’s major space powers, including Russia, ESA and individual European nations. It also has bilateral agreements with Brazil, Ukraine and Venezuela.

Cooperation with the United States has been frozen because of a Congressional ban on any such discussions. The restriction remains in place in the current budget, but the law includes a provision allowing discussions to go forward if NASA can certify that there is not a threat of revealing sensitive security information.

Excerpts from the white paper follow after the break.

China’s Space Activities in 2011
Chinese White Paper
December 29, 2011

V. International Exchanges and Cooperation

2. Major Events

Since 2006, China has implemented international space exchanges and cooperation in various forms. It has signed a number of cooperation agreements and memoranda on the peaceful utilization of outer space with a host of countries, space agencies and international organizations. China has taken part in relevant activities sponsored by the United Nations and other relevant international organizations and supported international space commercial cooperation. These measures have yielded positive results.

Bilateral cooperation

— China has established a long-term cooperation plan with Russia through the mechanism of the Space Cooperation Sub-committee under the Prime Ministers’ Meeting between Russia and China. The two nations have signed a number of cooperation agreements on space science, deep-space exploration and other areas, and their national space administrations have opened representative offices mutually. In the field of human spaceflight, the two nations have also carried out many cooperation projects.

— China has undertaken extensive cooperation with Ukraine under the Space Cooperation Sub-committee mechanism of the Sino-Ukrainian Cooperation Commission, and the two sides have signed the “Sino-Ukrainian Space Cooperation Program.”

— China and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed the “Status Quo of China-Europe Space Cooperation and the Cooperation Plan Protocol” under the mechanism of the China-Europe Joint Commission on Space Cooperation. The two sides cooperated closely during the lunar exploration missions of Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2, and signed the “Agreement on Mutual Support for the TT&C Network and Operation” in September 2011.

— China and Brazil, through the mechanism of the Space Cooperation Sub-committee of the Sino-Brazilian High-level Coordination Commission, have worked out a comprehensive bilateral space cooperation plan, actively promoted the research and development of the China-Brazil Earth resources satellites, continued to maintain data consistency of their Earth resources satellites and expanded the application of their data into regional and global application.

— China has signed a cooperation framework agreement on space and marine science and technology with France under the mechanism of the Sino-French Joint Commission on Space Cooperation, aiming at developing bilateral cooperation on astronomic satellite, ocean satellite and other satellite programs.

— China and Britain have established a joint laboratory on space science and technology, jointly organized a seminar on space science and technology, and conducted exchanges on lunar exploration, Earth observation, space science research and experiment, personnel training and other areas.

— China has signed a framework agreement with Germany on bilateral cooperation in the field of human spaceflight. Under the framework, the two countries have carried out a cooperative experiment project on the Shenzhou-8 concerning space life science.

— The director of the U.S. National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) visited China and the two sides will continue to make dialogue regarding the space field.

— China has signed a memorandum of understanding on technological cooperation in the peaceful utilization and development of outer space with Venezuela, and the two nations have established a technology, industry and space sub-committee under the China-Venezuela Senior Mixed Committee. Under this framework, the two nations have promoted bilateral cooperation in communications satellites, remote-sensing satellites, satellite applications and other areas.

— China has signed the “Cooperation Agreement on the Application, Exchange and Distribution of Meteorological Satellite Data” with the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), to promote the sharing in and application of meteorological satellite data.

— China has actively promoted the extensive applications of Earth observation satellite data with various countries. China has given to many countries free receiving stations for meteorological satellite broadcasting systems and comprehensive systems for meteorological information analysis and processing. With China’s help, a data receiving station of the Sino-Brazilian Earth Resources Satellite Program was established in South Africa, and another station for receiving environmental and disaster data from Chinese satellites was set up in Thailand. China has provided related earth observation satellite data products to the above-mentioned countries.

— China has implemented international exchanges and cooperation with a number of countries in frequency coordination, compatibility and interoperability, applications and other international exchanges and cooperation in the area of satellite navigation systems.

Multilateral cooperation

— China has taken part in activities organized by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) and its Scientific and Technical Sub-committee and Legal Sub-committee.

— China has signed relevant agreements with the United Nations on disaster management and emergency response based on the space-based information platform. A Beijing office of the program has been established. Through this office, China has provided drought risk-monitoring products to the “Horn of Africa,” and contributes to the regional disaster mitigation effort by offering training, capacity building, data service, disaster emergency response, QDGS (Quick Draw Graphics System) and other services.

— China has cooperated with the space institutes of various countries through the mechanism of the “International Charter on Space and Major Disasters.” Through this mechanism, satellite data support was provided to the Wenchuan earthquake, the forest fire in Australia and other major disaster relief work.

— In 2008, the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) was established with the joint effort of Asia-Pacific nations. Under the APSCO frame, the Chinese government actively participates in the cooperation and study of various projects, including the development of a space data-sharing platform, its demonstration and application; an Earth-based optic space target observation network; compatible navigation terminals. China assisted APSCO in the formulation and release of its policy on small satellite data in Asia-Pacific multilateral cooperation, and has promoted space cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

— China participates in activities organized by the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems, International Space Exploration Coordination Group, Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee, Group on Earth Observations, World Meteorological Organization and other inter-governmental international organizations. China has also developed multilateral exchanges and cooperation in satellite navigation, Earth observation and Earth science and research, disaster prevention and mitigation, deep-space exploration, space debris and other areas. China’s Beidou satellite navigation system has become one of the world’s four core system suppliers accredited by the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems, and will gradually provide regional and global navigation and positioning service as well as strengthened compatibility and interoperability with other satellite navigation systems. China will do its best to host the Seventh Meeting of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems in 2012. The nation’s independently developed space debris protective design system has also been incorporated into the protection manual of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee.

— China takes part in activities organized by the International Astronautical Federation, International Committee on Space Research, International Academy of Astronautics, and other non-governmental international space organizations and academic institutes. It has also organized a series of international academic conferences, including the Global Lunar Conference, and has fostered discussion and exchanges in deep-space exploration, space debris and other issues.

Commercial activities

China actively promotes the participation of Chinese enterprises in international commercial activities in the space field. China has exported whole satellites and made in-orbit delivery of communications satellites to Nigeria, Venezuela and Pakistan; provided commercial launch services for the Palapa-D satellite of Indonesia and the W3C satellite of Eutelsat, and signed commercial satellite and ground system export contracts with Bolivia, Laos, Belarus and other countries.

3. Key Cooperation Areas

In the next five years, China’s international space exchanges and cooperation will be mainly in the following areas:

— Scientific research on space astronomy, space physics, micro-gravity science, space life science, deep-space exploration, space debris and other areas.

— Applications of Earth observation satellites in environment and disaster monitoring, global climate change monitoring and forecasting, marine monitoring and other areas.

— Applications of communications satellites in broadcasting and television, long-distance education, telemedicine and other areas.

— Applied technological cooperation, research and development of terminal equipment, reinforced facility building, specific industrial services and other areas of satellite navigation systems.

— Technological cooperation on a space lab and a space station in China’s human spaceflight program; space science research and experiments and other areas.

— Space TT&C cooperation, support and others.

— Commercial satellite launch service, import and export of whole satellites, satellite parts and components, import and export of ground test equipment, and building and service of satellite ground TT&C and satellite application facilities as well as related services, etc.

— Personnel exchanges and training in the field of space.