The announcement came in mid-September, when Yang Liwei (deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency) claimed the Chinese government was considering taking foreign astronauts on future missions as well as providing training.
These remarks came at the United Nations/China Workshop on Human Space Technology, where a total of 150 participants from more than 20 nations and regions were in attendance.
During the conference, new space projects were discussed, such as microgravity research, international cooperation, and education for the public. In a report filed with China Daily, Yang said on behalf of the agency that:
“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.We will also welcome foreign astronauts who have received our training to work in our future space station.”
This represents a break with China’s previous attempts at forging ahead with a series of unilateral efforts to establish a space station and begin mounting its own flights. It also could mean that the nation will be taking part in ongoing multinational efforts like maintaining and conducting research aboard the International 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 their new space station, hoping China would help train their astronauts and then send them to the station to conduct their own scientific experiments.
He also indicated that allowing for these sorts of collaborative efforts could help other nations establish their own space programs. He also pointed out that European astronauts have visited the Chinese facilities before – predominantly from France and Russian- and vice versa, and that this could point the way towards more work between the nations.
China’s most recent spaceflight took place in June, where the Shenzhou 10 manned spaceflight docked with China’s small space station in orbit (Tiangong-1) The country is reportedly planning a larger space station in the coming years and possibly, some manned lunar missions.
They also hope to take advantage of improvements in social media and public interest in space missions, conducting live broadcasts from space that will allow people to speak to astronauts and witness research in progress.
- Is Chinas Space Program Shaping a Celestial Empire? (chinadailymail.com)
- China Opens Up Space Program to Foreign Astronauts (parabolicarc.com)
- China’s space station to open for foreign peers (spacedaily.com)
- China willing to open space station to foreign astronauts (straitstimes.com)
- China Willing to Open Space Station to Foreigners (abcnews.go.com)
- China aims for space station by 2023 (bbc.co.uk)
- You: Pak keen to be first to ride on China’s man space mission (nation.com.pk)
- China Invites Foreign Astronauts to Fly On Future Space Station (space.com)
- Astronaut Makes Stuffed Dinosaur in Space, Posts to Pinterest (mashable.com)
- Come on in, stranger: China says willing to open future space station to foreign astronauts (foxnews.com)