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NASA Denies White House Killed U.S.-China Space Cooperation Deal

By | January 5, 2009

      NASA denied a news report that the White House killed a U.S.-China space cooperation deal.

      Contrary to a news report, NASA never asked the White House for a cooperative mission such as the one described in the article, according to NASA.

      The fact is that the White House has been very supportive of a deliberate and careful establishment of relations between NASA and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) over the past two years, according to the U.S. space agency.

      As a result, NASA commenced working group discussions with CNSA representatives on Earth and space science earlier this year.

      Discussions of potential areas of future cooperation were based on principles of mutual benefit, reciprocity, and transparency, with the understanding that any proposal for specific projects would undergo careful review within the U.S. government. Approval would, of course, be affected by the overall status of the U.S.-China government-to-government relationship.

      The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), space shuttle flights, and International Space Station were never intended by either NASA or CNSA to be considered by the NASA-CNSA working group.

      The AMS is a $1.5 billion experiment contributed by an international group of agencies and universities that will lie useless on the ground unless an extra space shuttle mission is approved beyond those currently scheduled before the shuttle fleet retires in 2010.

      Regarding AMS, it is not an international project managed by NASA; the international aspects of AMS are managed by the Department of Energy (DOE). Currently, NASA is prepared to take necessary steps to fly one additional space shuttle flight to deliver AMS to the International Space Station before the scheduled retirement of the shuttle in 2010, provided that additional funding is provided to the agency for this additional flight. However, NASA leaders anticipate this flight will be reviewed by the new administration of President-elect Obama.

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