Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wanted: More ISS Participants

The International Space Station might receive visitors one day from China and India.

Aviation Week reports that "Heads of the five space agencies in the International Space Station (ISS) partnership have decided to try to expand participation by other nations in the orbiting laboratory, while not opening up the formal partnership to new members."

Based on posts I've read on the Florida Today comment threads, some people seem to think the United States owns the ISS. It's actually owned by a partnership of the U.S., Russia, Canada, Japan and the European Space Agency.

The article reports that the partners "embraced the Obama administration’s decision to continue funding the station, a move they had been urging since George W. Bush was U.S. president."

Aviation Week also reports that plans are underway "to certify the station structure and other on-orbit hardware for service through 2028," which I noted here on March 13.

The article also notes that "Chinese space officials have informally expressed interest in sending their astronauts to the ISS." The Obama administration has made it clear they want to build more international cooperation for space efforts to spread the costs globally, and China would be a major addition. China may consider folding their nascent lunar exploration program into the NASA-led International Lunar Network, which would suggest that when humans return to the Moon the mission might include astronauts from nations around the world.

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