China Opens Up Space Program to Foreign Astronauts

The crew of Shenzhou-10 after 15 days in space. (Credit: CNSA)
The crew of Shenzhou-10 after 15 days in space. (Credit: CNSA)

China is opening up its human spaceflight program to foreign astronauts:

 

We would like to train astronauts from other countries and organizations that have such a demand, and we would be glad to provide trips to foreign astronauts,” said Yang Liwei, deputy director of China Manned Space Agency. We will also welcome foreign astronauts who have received our training to work in our future space station.”

 

Yang, China’s first astronaut, who went into space in 2003, said many countries submitted proposals to the Chinese government during the development of the space station, hoping China would help train their astronauts and then send them to the station to conduct scientific experiments….

China and Russia have collaborated on astronaut training, spacecraft technology and extra-vehicular suits, and we are cooperating with our French counterparts on a variety of experiments in astrobiology and space medicine,” he said, adding that Chinese and German scientists also performed astrobiological experiments during the unmanned Shenzhou VIII mission in 2011.

 

Astronauts from the European Space Agency and their Chinese peers have visited each other’s training facilities, laying a solid foundation for further communication….

 

 

Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s manned space program, said the country will be able to rendezvous with other countries’ spacecraft at the space station. China is also exploring the possibility of carrying out a joint rescue operation, according to Zhou.

 

China’s plans including launching a second Tiangong space station into orbit with several crews to follow and then building a multi-module station by 2020.

The announcement came as China marked the 10th anniversary of  its first spaceflight in 2003. Yang made 14 orbits around the Earth in Shenzhou 5 before landing safely. The nation has launched a total of five successful Shenzhou spacecraft with crews on board.

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