The national security panel also discussed prospects for closer civil space cooperation with China. Eric Sterner suggested that if the administration pursues collaboration with China on the ISS, this would introduce the controversies of U.S.-China relations into the space program, such as disagreements over human rights, which could have negative consequences for congressional support for NASA. A workshop participant also noted, however, that a U.S. invitation to China to participate in the ISS program could be viewed as part of an overall effort by the United States to improve its relationship with China.

During the national security panel discussion several participants noted that although civil and commercial space cooperation have sometimes been impeded by national security constraints (e.g., ITAR), cooperation can also contribute to increased national security. If through cooperation space becomes a more routine place for doing business, this could support U.S. national security goals, including the protection of U.S. assets in space, Lennard Fisk (University of Michigan) observed. He added that closer space collaboration with China—which already has extensive trade and financial relationships with the United States—should perhaps be considered from this perspective.


The fourth panel discussion considered cooperation and collaboration in space activities as a tool for future engagement. The panel discussion was moderated by former Space Studies Board chair Lennard Fisk (University of Michigan) and included presentations by Gregory Kulacki (Union of Concerned Scientists), Yoshinori Yoshimura (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; JAXA), and Gib Kirkham (NASA). The panel members discussed current and prospective collaboration activities of the United States and Japan as well as the space activities of China and U.S. interactions with China. Panelist Gib Kirkham discussed the origins and evolution of the Global Exploration Strategy,6 which was developed through the collaboration of fourteen space agencies working to develop a document that provides a rationale for exploration as well as common themes and objectives for internationally coordinated space exploration activities. The agencies participating in the GES, both existing and emerging space powers, also have established a coordination mechanism-the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG)7 where space agencies can exchange information and consider opportunities for future cooperation. The ISECG has set up a working group that is currently focusing on different aspects of an initial international lunar exploration architecture. Several workshop participants commented that the approach taken by the ISECG participants is a positive step, although one participant suggested that participation in the ISECG should be elevated to the program-head level.

Panelist Yoshinori Yoshimura reviewed Japanese space activities and interests. JAXA cooperates closely with NASA and NOAA on a variety of joint projects, the largest of which involves Japanese participation in the ISS program. One challenge facing JAXA is to ensure that—since Japan’s hardware elements are only now arriving at the station—Japan’s investment in the ISS is fully utilized. The ISS is part of Japan’s exploration program, Yoshimura stated. JAXA is also actively participating in the ISECG and looks forward to collaborating with the United States and other ISECG participants on future exploration projects.

Panelist Gregory Kulacki provided historical background on China’s space program and addressed U.S.-Chinese interactions on space matters. A primary driver of China’s human space program, he noted, is to inspire young people and encourage them to pursue careers in science and engineering. Though they are frustrated over U.S. efforts to contain their space activities, the Chinese do not today view themselves as competing with the United States in human spaceflight he added. At the same time, Kulacki observed, there is considerable uncertainty in China over U.S. intentions and motivations with regard to future space collaboration between the two countries.

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