Space Mission

It's decision time on international space program

Updated: 2010-06-02 13:14
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Comment on "China may become space station partner" (China Daily, June 1)

The International Space Station (ISS) is a great scientific and expensive undertaking. Participating nations learn a lot but need to spend a lot, too.

If China participates now, it would have to contribute huge funds, too. But China would have missed many of the things and knowledge needed to put a station into orbit. So when you join in halfway, you get to learn that much less and you need to dig into the areas you missed out on. Realistically, can it done?

Maybe China needs to know what the terms and conditions required are; whether the benefits so obtained would help China's space program. To participate in the ISS may mean rethinking, into a diverted focus and divided budget on China's own space quests.

China needs to weigh the pros and cons of participation at this point in time. ISS is already in an advanced stage and as far as China is concerned there are steps and procedures (technologies included) to set up a space station, and it needs to know now. So should China join?

China should start from scratch in order to learn more. At least China should not start with zero knowledge. The fundamentals must be in hand. Existing knowledge will be most helpful. China must do it on her own with as little outside help as possible. History tells us that outside help can be withdrawn at crucial times, and there are no guarantees.

Getting knowledge from advanced and experienced nations may be faster, but there lies the danger of vital knowledge and technology being withheld.

HsunTze, on China Daily Website