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There were encouraging words from the American space program — from its veterans:
"If there is a challenge involved, it is for the United States and other space-faring nations to live up to their ideals and potentials in space."
James Oberg, 22 year veteran at mission control in Houston, Texas. More...
"We'd learn a little bit more about China's space plans if we extended a hand of welcome."
— Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut who walked on the moon. Aldrin suggested China should play a supporting role in the International Space Station.
"We believe that when men reach beyond this planet, they should leave their national differences behind them."
— John F. Kennedy










Americans Take Action!

Contact Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) here and tell him to LET CHINA PARTICIPATE IN THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION! and stop the militarization of space.



Shenzhou Spacecraft
SAN DIEGO, OCTOBER 2003 — It is tempting to compare China's achievement of manned space flight with the other "first" humans in space accomplished a generation ago by the former Soviet Union and the USA for all three nations used the occasion for patriotic fervor and international political prestige.

But there is an important difference. The world is no longer in a militarized space race and China's success with the orbit of taikonaut Yang Liwei in the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft does not affect the military balance of power.

China has launched and retrieved space capsules and satellites of similar size and complexity to the Shenzhou 5 for many years.

In fact, Chinese companies have close to 10% of the lucrative global market for launching commercial satellites.

Since sending its first satellite into orbit in 1970, China now ranks fourth in successful space launches after the European Space Agency, USA, and Soviet Union/Russia.

If anything, the decision to pursue manned space exploration should be applauded as a welcome direction for the Chinese space program.

Yet war hawks in the USA are already talking up China as a new threat in space, saying that China's manned space program is a cloak for espionage and a challenge to the USA.

This message is spread with depressing predictability by the usual mouthpieces: "Pentagon reporter" Bill Gertz in Reverend Sun Myong Moon's Washington Times, the editorial pages of The Economist magazine, the New York Times, etc., conservative policy groups, and henchmen of President Bush's Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

The announcement that China put a man in space prompted the deputy commander of NORTHCOM, Lt. General Edward Anderson, to proclaim that "it will not be long before space becomes a battleground."

NORTHCOM (or NORCOM) is the Northern Command, a little-known USA military command, created in 2002 by Donald Rumsfeld. Its ominous sounding focus is to defend the USA and support "the full range of military assistance to civil authorities."

Deputy Anderson's comments were made at a conference on "geospatial intelligence" in New Orleans. There he told a symposium crowd how important American space technology is to the military's missions and remarked "[t]hey can see that one of the ways that they can certainly diminish our capabilities will be to attack the space systems." "Now how they do that and who that's going to be," he said, "I can't tell you in this audience."

At the same conference Donald Rumsfeld's former special assistant for intelligence, Rich Haver, now vice president for intelligence strategy with defense contractor Northrup Grumman Mission Systems, said "I believe space is the place we will fight in the next 20 years."

The day after Yang Liwei's successful orbit, Bates Gill, Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center For Strategic and International Studies (a powerful conservative think tank that directly influences American government) warned at a CSIS confab that the Chinese space program is used to underwrite military spending.

But linking space and military programs is long the case in the USA and the Soviet Union/Russia.

Once the USA succeeded in putting a man on the moon it spent far more on military space systems than nonmilitary. By 1990 the USA spent twice as much on military space vehicles than on nonmilitary systems. That trend has continued.

In Russia, the space program routinely develops secret military applications, such as next-generation reconnaissance satellites, that build upon the success of civilian space enterprises that deliver American astronauts and space tourists to the International Space Station.

In both countries the space technology standards (GPS in America and GLONASS in Russia) which are used for all commercial applications are completely controlled by the military.

Fact is, all three countries share the same heritage for their space programs —the rocket technologies developed by Nazi Germany—and all three use their space programs for military purposes.

But China is not actively seeking to achieve military superiority in space. Since 2000 China's space agencies have sought to become part of the International Space Station (ISS) but are kept out by the USA.

One of the key participants in the ISS, the European Space Agency (ESA), extended "warmest congratulations to the People's Republic of China on this outstanding achievement" in a statement from ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is developing a technology standard (GSM) that will be civilian controlled. China and the ESA are currently finalizing a five-year agreement for cooperation.

The USA ban on Chinese participation in the ISS is overtly political. The reasons for the ban are a disparate and outdated list of complaints about China ranging from "human rights" and Tibet to industrial espionage.

Much of the political will behind the ban is from one politician, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R) of California, an anti-China hawk who co-founded the Taiwan Congressional Caucus which is heavily influenced by a pro-independence Taiwan lobby.

The future of the ISS is currently in doubt. Long before the collapse of the American space shuttle program the ISS was far behind construction and billions over budget.

The only method currently of supplying the space station with materials—and crew—is via Russia’s space program. That is a tenuous lifeline at best. A launch scheduled for next month was canceled due to lack of funds.

Chinese spacecraft are compatible with ISS modules. This presents a real opportunity for Chinese participation for supply missions at a minimum.

If the USA is seriously concerned about China’s ambitions in space instead of treating the Chinese as space invaders it should welcome them into the International Space Station and encourage China to realize the loftiest ideals of human space exploration.

©2003-2005 Ben Calmes for Sinomania!

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