Xinhua (via China Daily) has just reported Chinese journalists blocked from covering the Endeavor launch due to the ‘Wolf Clause.’ The clause was introduced into the 2011 budget bill by congressman Frank Wolf and signed into law by President Obama just one month ago. It is unfortunate, because China’s scientists have designed some core parts of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) particle detector which was on board the shuttle. The detector is “mankind’s most ambitious effort to date to explore the universe’ origin.” This is a rare opportunity to collaborate in science and humanity; politics need not play a part. So, I must say, I share the articles indignation at what transpired, especially in the recent Strategic & Economic Dialog, the two countries leaders pledged expanding cooperation.
This story has brought back an irony I mentioned a while ago involving the European Galileo program. In my article last year on Beidou (COMPASS), China’s GPS, I mentioned:
In an interesting twist, the E.U. had originally signed China on to work together on the Galileo project back in 2003. However, the E.U. kept China away from major decisions for the project. The E.U. also failed to secure financing for their portions of the program. As a result, China pulled out of the partnership.
(The Chinese Beidou ended up launching first.)
International Telecommunications Union convention is basically “first come first served” when a country wishes to grab certain frequencies. Newer satellites sent to orbit must not disrupt frequencies that are already in use.
Could the U.S. look back at this moment like the Europeans did with Galileo? If the U.S. is hell bent on not wanting to collaborate with China on space exploration, then China will likely go on her own. Or, others will partner with her. In fact, China recently unveiled plans to launch her own space station by the end of the decade. China and Russia have also announced plans to put a man on Mars by 2040. Below is Russia Today’s report: