Last week, when a U.S. Navy destroyer narrowly avoided a collision with a Chinese naval vessel, there was at least something of a protocol in place for the two ships to communicate with one another. The same thing can’t be said of the two countries’ space programs. But that may change with the imminent retirement of US Congressman Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican who served for 17 years.
Since 2001, Wolf has either led or played an important role on the funding committee for NASA, where he put the kibosh on any cooperation with China’s space program.
Wolf objected to Chinese political repression and forced abortions due to China’s one-child policy (“Would you have a bilateral program with Stalin?” Wolf once asked). He also feared China might exploit the relationship to gain secret information about US space technology like it did after a failed launch in 1996, as Zach Rosenberg explains.