The Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX 2017) opened on June 6, 2017, with an official welcome address by Li Yuanchao, vice president of the People’s Republic of China. Li Yuanchao also read a letter from Xi Jinping, the president of the People’s Republic of China, which stated that “China is ready to strengthen cooperation with the international community for a better future to humankind.” The three-day conference, which was held in Beijing, showcased China’s push for international cooperation in space and proposed that a global space agency be created to oversee future space missions.
Lei Fanpei, president of the Chinese Society of Astronautics (CSA) and Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), welcomed over a thousand delegates from 51 countries to GLEX 2017, according to Space Daily.
The aforementioned Xi letter suggested China was, according to the Xinhua News Agency, “willing to enhance cooperation with the international community in peaceful space exploration and development.” President Xi also expressed the hope that the ongoing conference would promote space science development and international exchanges and cooperation in information and technology.
Among the topics discussed at the international space conference, in addition to analyzing the merits of an global space agency, was the role of female space leaders, a futuristic characterization of a crew landing on the planet Mars, the work currently being undertaken by space nations and the promotion of emerging space countries.
China, which has been on an accelerated agenda to increase not only its presence in space, but to actively participate in the exploration the moon and Mars, has recently expressed interest in cooperating with various international agencies and nationalities in its space endeavors. Last month, the Asian nation proposed a joint venture with the European Space Agency in constructing and maintaining a moon base.
Jan Woerner, director general of the European Space Agency (ESA), addressed the global space community at GLEX as well, inviting the delegates to join in the cooperative Moon Village concept, a reiteration of his proposal made at the 32nd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in April. As reported by the Inquisitr, Woerner suggested that a moon base would be instrumental in mankind’s move to explore the rest of the Solar System, a stepping stone to getting to Mars and beyond.
According to the Hindustan Times, China has also expressed interest in cooperating with India, which was noticeably absent at the space conference. Cooperation between the space programs, of course, is dependent on the governments deciding the extent of collaboration, a top Chinese aerospace scientist said, attempting to play down a perceived “space race” between the two Asian countries.
Sun Weigang, chief engineer of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, although not commenting on India’s absence, did state that top Indian and Chinese officials had been in contact over possible future collaborative projects.
“We are very willing to cooperate with India in the field of aerospace,” he said. “The directors of space agencies from both sides have met and have discussed about cooperation and collaboration.”
A most notable absence at the space conference — besides India — was the United States (in an official capacity). Although China has offered to collaborate with NASA over the years, the agency has been required by law, passed in 2011, to not enter into any partnerships and/or technological endeavors with China. Until the law is repealed, NASA will not be able to work in collaboration with China on any space missions.
[Featured Image by Ng Han Guan/AP Images]