European Space Scientists Anxious for a Part of China’s Space Program

China’s Tiangong-2 space lab is launched on a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert on September 15. The lab is equipped with 14 space instruments including a cold atomic clock, developed by researchers in Shanghai. Photo: AFP

China’s Tiangong-2 space lab is launched on a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert on September 15. The lab is equipped with 14 space instruments including a cold atomic clock, developed by researchers in Shanghai. Photo: AFP

The International Space Station (ISS) will retire in 2024 while China’s first space station will be in service by 2022. On 28 March 2015, Russia announced that Russia and the US had agreed on cooperation in developing a replacement, but the US failed to confirm in its statement later.

Given current tension between Russia and the US, the cooperation is not quite likely. European scientists are anxious to join China’s space program so that they can use China’s space station.

SCMP says in its report “For scientists reaching for the stars, China offers leg-up – with litmus test” on October 4, “For three days in Shanghai late last month, leading Chinese space scientists met their European counterparts to discuss how to work together on projects that push the limits of technology.”

China’s ambitious projects of world largest space telescope, space station, installation of an atom interferometer in space station, Mars exploration and landing humans on the moon are very attractive. China welcome European cooperation but there is a precondition:

SCMP quotes Du Yuanjie, an engineering researcher at China Academy of Space Technology, as saying, “they must bring to the table something that will make a tangible contribution to the mission” and that Western countries should not approach China for collaboration with second- or third-rate technology, because it would be regarded as humiliation.

Does China have first-rate technology in the first place? Years ago, the US did not allow China to join the ISS for fear that China, being too backward, may steal US advanced technology. Now however, SCMP says “Ojha (Anu Ojha, director of the British National Space Academy) said Western space scientists were ‘shocked’ by the progress in the Chinese space programme. Chinese researchers had come up with solutions to some engineering problems that were ‘completely different’ from those in the West and that worked equally well or even better.”

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at

6 Comments on “European Space Scientists Anxious for a Part of China’s Space Program”

  1. Joseph says:

    There are a cheaper alternative for the ESA. They can build mock habitats to represent Moon, Mars or other habitats. I don’t think the ESA is willing to fully share their research anyway. They have been known to act in contempt of the Chinese and other Asian countries. So if they want China’s favor, they have to prove themselves worthy. Acting like an overlord with ‘superior’ intellect to question the standard of Chinese technology is just another form of contempt. After all even if Chinese technology is below their standard, China has the actual facilities. Of all their ‘first-rate’ standard, the ESA has nothing but ‘standard’, otherwise the ESA will not need to hitchhike others. A few of often-fail rockets can hardly be called a standard, first-rate or any other rate.


  2. Be Careful China says:

    Unless there are extremely strong strategic reasons, China should treat the West in a reciprocal manner – like trash.

    The last time Chinese technology fell into the hands of the white devil, the entire planet suffered horrific atrocities. Those that survived now have to listen to these same barbarians lecture about human rights and democracy.

    Will China learn from its past or repeat the mistake of seeking “harmony” when none can exist with whites?


  3. Steve says:

    Firstly, China should get its space station established in 2022, maximise whatever benefits that needed to be maximised before joint venture. I highly doubt it that Western Scientist will bring their first tier technology to the table. Even if they agree, their Western Govt. especially US may not allow it.

    Space exploration is basically Space exploitation. Every Govt. wants to be number one and I doubt it if any of the foreign Scientist would share their state of the art technology. After all, its their Govt. that provides the funding in research and technology. The State Governments owns the technology not the Scientist.


    • Jane says:

      That is short term thinking. There are very strong strategic reasons to cooperate with the Europeans on space exploration.

      The Americans are already planning to land on Mars. China would be wise to get the Europeans on its side now, so the world can present a united front if the Americans try to tear up the Outer Space Treaty and claim Mars for themselves.

      The French and the Italians still bear a grudge against the US for the embargo on Chinese satellite launches. They spent a lot of money trying to design a satellite that would not be subject to the US embargo, but it was all wasted when the US government pressured their American suppliers to stop selling to them.

      There is every chance that this could turn out the same way as the Asian Infrastructure Bank. As soon as one European country dares to defy the US, other European countries will follow them into China’s open arms.

      A few European berths on the Chinese space station are a small price to pay for preserving China’s rights on an entire planet.


      • Steve says:

        According to reports, the US planned to land Astronauts on Mars around 2030, China will send a robotic explorer in 2020 and if successful will put Taikanauts on Mars about the same time as US. China is now training European Astronauts mainly for China’s space station.

        I am only suggesting that China maximise the benefits of an All pioneering China Taikanauts establishment of a space station in 2022, similarly to China landing an All Chinese Taikanauts on the Moon surface. It don’t make sense for China to have a pioneering multicultural Astronauts landing on the Moon and inhabiting the space station the first time. The pioneering Astronauts would have to be China’s Taikanauts otherwise there will be 1.2+ billion unhappy Chinese.

        As for the Outer Space Treaty, this is something that is beyond All types of treaties on Earth. Even if the US were to tear up the OST and claim the whole planet Mars for themselves, it maybe deemed illegal by Nations such as China, Russia and the Europeans, simply because they may not respect US claims to the whole Red planet. This is a legal matter that is beyond any nation’s jurisdiction.

        But, you are right, if China, Russia and Europeans establish a kind of treaty based on the ‘conquest’ of such a planet, maybe shared by the responsible space exploration nations. Can you imagine in future countries performing FONOS (Freedom Of Navigation in Outer Space) due to space exploration domination and rewriting the rules based on delimitation.

        In a worse case scenario, assuming that US, China, Russia and Europeans landed on Mars, there will more likely, be demarcation of boundaries, dividing the Red planet into various countries. The planet Mars is over 50% bigger than Earth and its too big for for a single nation on earth to own the whole planet.