China, United Nations Sign Cooperation Agreement on Space Station

Artist's conception of China's Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)
Artist’s conception of China’s Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

VIENNA, 16 June (UN Information Service PR) – The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) have agreed to work together to develop the space capabilities of United Nations Member States via opportunities on-board China’s future space station.

Following the signing of a Framework Agreement and a Funding Agreement earlier this year, Wu Ping, Deputy Director General of CMSA, presented the project to the 59th session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) at the UN in Vienna earlier this week.

Under the agreements, UNOOSA and CMSA will work together to enable United Nations Member States, particularly developing countries, to conduct space experiments on-board China’s space station, as well as to provide flight opportunities for astronauts and payload engineers. Both parties will also promote international cooperation in human space flight and other space activities, increased awareness of the benefits of human space technology and its applications, and capacity-building activities in space technology. CMSA will provide funding support to UNOOSA in this regard.

“This is an exciting opportunity to further build the space capacity of developing countries and increase understanding of the benefits space can bring to humankind, including for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. My Office and I are looking forward to working with CMSA on these initiatives,” said UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo.

China expects that its space station will be operational around 2022.

“Space exploration is the common dream and wish of humankind. We believe that the implementation of the agreements will definitely promote international cooperation on space exploration, and create opportunities for United Nations Member States, particularly developing countries, to take part in, and benefit from, the utilization of China’s space station,” said CMSA Deputy Director General Wu Ping.

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  • ThomasLMatula

    Interesting, but this fits with the historic role of space as part of a nation’s foreign policy.

  • Congrats… I guess? You’ve partnered up with a group that doesn’t have a budget or any real power… so it’s just a symbolic partnership.

  • windbourne

    Hmmm.
    So the chinese military is finally going to allow none-chinese on-board or is this something else.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Like Russia and the U.S. they will fly foreigners into space to score foreign policy brownie points.

  • P.K. Sink

    At this time they are not planning on using the International Docking Adapter, so my money is on “something else”.

  • windbourne

    ida is not needed to allow none-chinese ppl to ride their ship up to their space station.
    However, the PLA has fought against allowing any foreigners on their space station until they get a new one. IOW, their current station is devoted to military in space.

  • windbourne

    yeah, but PLA has been saying no way.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Probably depends on what is in it for them. As part of a incentive package for an army/navy base in Latin America or perhaps near Europe would probably qualify. It also depends on the power dynamics at the time. The mere fact this agreement was made may indicate their power is fading. It will be interesting to watch.

  • ReSpaceAge

    Serves us right for not allowing them on ISS. That was a silly move in my opinion.

  • Aerospike

    Isn’t their “current” station EOL anyway?
    I thought the second station (again a single module one) hasn’t been launched yet and assumed that all this agreement stuff is about their third, multi module, station anyway?

  • windbourne

    Yes. They claimed that they were going to de-orbit 1 after a bit of time but now say that they lost telemetry with it so will leave it in orbit permanently.
    What is interesting is that 1 did not have any real stuff on-board. A minimal life support, but no kitchen, bathroom, etc. All of that was back in the space craft.

  • windbourne

    I don’t think they will be much to BA. BA is going after national space programs and will have loads of room, and launches compared to China. Supposedly, anyways.
    We will see what happens in the future.

  • windbourne

    I will be shocked if anybody other than Chinese is allowed on 2, and most likely 3 will have a module that is closed off as well.