ESA, China Discuss Shenzhou Docking at ISS

A taikonaut emerges from China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft after a successful orbital flight

Check out this update on cooperation with China on human spaceflight:

European Space Agency Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain met with his Chinese counterpart March 22-23 to discuss future cooperation in manned spaceflight, including the potential for a Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station (ISS).

The two sides met at Dordain’s request on the sidelines of the European Space Agency’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) launch to the ISS March 23 to further establish a dialogue and lay the groundwork for potential Sino-European cooperation in manned spaceflight.

“For the moment we cannot dock and rendezvous with the ISS, because our system is not the same as the Americans or the Russians,” said Wang Zhaoyao, the newly named director general of the China Manned Space Engineering Office (Cmseo), adding that experts from both agencies are expected to establish a working group that will meet in Paris next month to discuss Shenzhou’s compatibility with a planned ISS common docking mechanism. “We would like to have cooperation.”

Dordain says the two sides are discussing a range of collaborative opportunities in the area of manned spaceflight, including astronaut training, life-support systems and utilization of each other’s space station facilities.

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