ESA won’t send astronauts to Chinese space station

ESA will not send its astronauts to the Chinese Tiangong space station. The possibility of implementing this program has been discussed in recent years, but the further rapprochement of China with Russia makes it impossible.

Taikonauts at the Tiangong station. Source: CMSA

ESA has no money and no desire to cooperate with China

The head of the European Space Agency (ESA), Josef Aschbacher, rules out sending astronauts to the Chinese Tiangong space station. According to him, Europe has neither money nor political interest in continuing such cooperation.

“We are very busy supporting and ensuring our commitments and activities on the International Space Station where we have a number of international partners working together,” he said during an annual briefing in Paris.

Earlier, ESA and China were seriously preparing for a joint space mission at the Tiangong station. European astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti and Matthias Maurer together with colleagues from the Celestial Empire, underwent survival training in 2017. A year earlier, Taikonaut Ye Guangfu completed a training course on European programs.

To be or not to be a collaboration?

Back in 2021, ESA and China were partners in space exploration. The Europeans helped the Chinese with the Chang’e-5 lunar mission and the Zhurong rover. And soon, the scientific instrument created by ESA will fly away on board the Chang’e-6. So, the complete termination of cooperation is still questionable.

In particular, Ashbacher did not say anything about the project of the International Lunar Research Station. China is developing it together with Russia and the first expedition there is planned to take place at the end of the decade. 

In September 2022, China held an International Astronautical Congress dedicated to the exploration of the Moon. And an ESA representative participated in it. At the same time, the name of the aggressor country did not sound at all, as if Russia had nothing to do with all this.

Meanwhile, the Chinese themselves are trying to expand their international cooperation by involving a number of Arab countries in their projects. Also, a commercial space company from Hong Kong has announced the start of construction of launch pads on the east coast of Africa.

According to

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