Executive Intelligence Review


NASA’s Bridenstine for Adding International Partners to U.S. Space Projects, Maybe Also China

July 23, 2018 (EIRNS)—A seminar titled, “Celebrating NASA’s 60th Anniversary with Administrator Jim Bridenstine,” was held today in Washington by the Center for International and Strategic Studies. Bridenstine’s presentation reviewed the history of NASA, in which he stressed that after Apollo and the race for a manned Moon landing, the U.S. relationship to the Soviet space program changed. The Apollo-Soyuz mission was a partnership, rather than a competition, a partnership which continued between the U.S. and Russia on the International Space Station.

Asked about the possibility for cooperation with China, Bridenstine repeated what he has said before, that international partnerships are vital for NASA’s space exploration plans, but in the case of China, that will be a policy decision above his pay grade, meaning the relationship between the two nations’ political leadership. But he thinks with an overall change in policy, space cooperation would be included, and he is sympathetic to making the change. In that regard, he said he has sent a letter to the Congress to be granted a waiver from the prohibition of talking to the leadership of the Chinese space program, whom he plans to meet with in the autumn at an international space conference.

Bridenstine was asked if the Wolf amendment, which prohibits cooperation with China, would have to be repealed. He said that it wouldn’t, because as an amendment, it is tacked onto the appropriations bill every year; if it were left out, it would be gone. On another panel, former NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden clarified that the prohibition applies only to manned space flight, and that China and the U.S. have numerous scientific exchanges. Bolden further affirmed that “engagement is essential.”

A major international issue that Bridenstine and NASA are now grappling with is the proposed retirement of the ISS in 2025. The Administrator indicated that NASA would consider the issue very carefully. He also reported that in a recent poll, 80% of the people said that the ISS is a good investment for the country.