NASA Chief Heads to China Amid Lawmaker Concerns Administrator Charles Bolden left for Beijing Oct. 15 amid mixed congressional response to Bolden's plans to meet with Chinese officials to discuss the possible for cooperation in human spaceflight. Two House Republicans and a Democrat representing the Congressional U.S. China Working Group write Bolden Oct. 12 to express their sustain for the five day trip and request the NASA chief raise the possibility of a "joint-rescue capability in space that would allow the U.S., China and Russia to save each other's space crews."

The letter, signed by Reps. Rick Larsen, Charles Boustany and Mark Kirk, said Bolden should think developing a common docking interface for space capsules capable of attainment the international space station, including the Chinese Shenzhou, Russian Soyuz and NASA's Orion crew capsule, which the agency is still planning to expand for use as a crew lifeboat on the orbiting outpost. "As NASA develops the new Crew Return Vehicle based on the work previously done on the Orion crew capsule, the U.S. should begin discussion on a ordinary docking ring between the CRV, Shenzhou and Soyuz," the letter states. Other lawmakers, however, are adamantly opposite to such cooperation and made sure Bolden was aware of their displeasure.

U.S. Reps. Frank Wolf of Virginia, John Culberson of Texas and Robert Aderholt of Alabama all Republicans portion on the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee that approves NASA's annual budgets connected California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in objecting to Bolden's trip in a note sent to the NASA chief as he left town. "As you know, we have serious concerns about the nature and goals of China's space program and powerfully oppose any cooperation between NASA and China," the lawmakers wrote in the Oct. 15 letter to Bolden. "In light of the small notice and scant information provided before your departure to China, we respectfully request a full conference with you upon your return."

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