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The ISS  (Source: NASA)
China wants in, but the U.S. may not allow it

Chinese space officials today announced the country is still willing to work alongside the United States on extraterrestrial endeavors, especially the International Space Station.

"We sincerely hope to conduct cooperation with the United States in the field of space," said Li Xueyong, Vice Minister of Space and Technology.  "At some point we hope to take part in the activities relating to international space stations."

Sixteen nations are currently involved in the ISS project, but China is not one of them even though the country has one of the fastest growing space programs in the world.  China would ultimately like to have an astronaut stationed on the ISS in the future, but must convince the United States and other partners to allow a communist nation to be allowed to participate in the project.

Li did not clearly specify how China hopes to help the participating nations work on the ISS.

State media in China reported the country plans to launch its first lunar probe before November, only weeks after Japan launched one into orbit.  In 2003, China became the third nation to successfully launch an astronaut into orbit with no help from other nations.

There is growing concern over the country's expanding space program, which reached a new level after China announced it had destroyed an old satellite last January by shooting a land-based missile to destroy it.  Critics of the launch claim China could theoretically launch a missile to destroy active military satellites, though Chinese officials still claim the nation has only peaceful plans for space.




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