Slow and Steady: China takes a walk and Russia partners with Cuba

As we prepare for the next Shuttle mission I am reminded of the great photo that captured two Shuttle vehicles at their respective launch pads. It is easy to look at that picture and admire the incredible capability and accomplishments of our Human Space program. At the same time I can’t help but wonder about the parable of the tortoise and the hare. If you recall the tortoise repeated over and over again, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

During the month when this Shuttle photo was taken, Zhai Zhigang, the Shenzhou VII mission’s commander, was the first taikonaut to take a walk in space. China’s third human mission launched on Thursday, September 25th demonstrates China’s steady efforts to establish a permanent Chinese Human presence in Space. Also in “mid-September, Moscow and Havana negotiated joint space projects. Anatoly Perminov, director of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), said the sides had discussed the possibility of setting up a Cuban space center with Russian assistance.” The interesting part of this editorial was the reference to Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez. I know who is Mr. Mendez? During the time that we were not flying and preparing for the first shuttle mission, Mr. Mendez was the first Cuban to go into space on September 18, 1980. Now 28 years later, we will probably have two additional space agencies within our western hemisphere. Two? Oh, did I forget to mention how our own astronaut, Jose Hernandez is working on a proposal with Mexico to establish Agencia Espacial Mexicana (Mexican Space Agency).

Yes, many will not see some of these efforts as ever gaining the momentum to challenge our leadership in space. This may be true, but what should be our strategy forward? There are new alliances and relationships being established in the international community that do not include NASA. Should we leverage these relationships or create new ones? If we were to strengthen our ties with India or initiate a new partnership with the Mexican Space Agency, what would it look like? Let me know what you think.

Sharing the Vision,
Steven González, Deputy, Advanced Planning Office

133 thoughts on “Slow and Steady: China takes a walk and Russia partners with Cuba”

  1. I think it is a good idea for Nasa to incorporate the resoures of other counties (both human and material) but it shouldnt limit itself to partnering with countries with existing space programs.

    Many countries, even small ones like my own New Zealand have resources that could aid Nasa even if it is only our geographical location. After all, it is all humans that will benefit.

    Our course the hard part will be to retain the focus of any Nasa partnerships on delivering the science.

    Unfortunately I see it is more probable that other countries will only contribute a token $$$$ amount and the venture will turn into a forum for national self promotion by the minor players.

  2. Steven,
    I worked for Loral/Lockheed at JSC in the late Nineties on the ISS program. I think we may have met once or twice during that period. While on the HSR project for the ISS I worked closely with members of the Russian Space Agency. I strongly believe that large multi-national projects like the ISS program play a vital role in relationship building between countries. Space exploration and exploitation has such a large scope and potential that it seems to me to be an ideal area for building the type of relationships and alliances that help establish stable long term relations between countries.

  3. Yes, expeditions to Space should be an international effort, not just a measure of power for each country.

    Yours,

  4. I hope you initiate a new partnership with the AEXA (Mexican Space Agency). We (mexicans) have a lot of people with a lot of potential in differents areas like robotics, nanotechnology, electronic communications, geology, medicine, etc.

    eduardoguizar@gmail.com

  5. I considered, first, the goal of space scientific research is for safety of the whole planet, the first task is to monitoring the habitat and how we came a planet in the universe. Since that point of view the idea to have “space city” in Cuba and Mexico will increase the rol of the partners of Russia and China involved in the Moscu-Havana signed protocole with Roscosmos, recently.It is not the first time cuban and russian have a space joint effort based on informatic developing in cuban universities labs(Computer) since 1977. Gualterio Nunez Estrada, former scientific tematic writer, Scientific Research Dpt., Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba-Unesco Caribbean-“Kalinine Tecnical Institute”, Leningrad, 1975- to 1980.Living, actually, in Sarasota, Florida, 34233.

  6. Look, I can see why US superiority in space exploration and the likely eventual space population is something to be very proud of but the discoveries made and advancements made are for all mankind to enjoy so yes, partnerships should be made with other space agencies if it is going to speed up the progress made.

  7. It is very important for Nasa to consolidate and strengthen or initiate relationship with European block. Space quest is a matter of power, realistically, but, this power must be combine with the long term vision. I dare to say that China will not be as opened as the Western countries are. I do love Beijing by the way.

  8. China is emerging as a big powerful country inevitble by the power display during their independence day celebration last week
    regards
    jonathan

  9. It is very important for Nasa to consolidate and strengthen or initiate relationship with European block.I hope you initiate a new partnership with the AEXA (Mexican Space Agency).

    Stephen Conner

  10. India's Space program is in good pace and it is better than Chaina at least for it's stand on words. I believe that will certainly boost growth, of course, as the saying quoted by you : “Slow and steady wins the race”.

  11. IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME TO HAVE GOOD NEW SCIENCE INFORMATION AVAILABLE RIGHT AWAY. THANKS FOR POST THIS AND I WAITING FOR NEXT POST.

  12. China is another nation that growing up in space science.I am gland to here this news.I think all nations in the world would help each other to develop space technology.So in the next few years,we should go to live on Mars. . I love this news.

  13. China is emerging as a big powerful country inevitble by the power display during their independence day celebration last week

    I think so.

  14. China's Space program is in good pace & is emerging as a big powerful country. Maybe China's law is a strong. I think so that.

  15. India's Space program is in good pace dare to say that China will not be as opened as the Western countries are. I do love Beijing by the
    way.

  16. Thank you for the heads up.This was quiet a useful blog..I began reading it and it took my interest till I read the entire story..Keep up the good work..
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  17. Great for this information, China is another nation that growing up in space science.I am gland to here this news.I think all nations in the world would help each other to develop space technology. ( )

  18. Short of another Cold war there is realistically no way that the worlds governments will race to the moon and beyond. There isn't the government or public will for such prohibitively expensive projects when there is far more affordable and equally worthwhile scientific research that can be carried out on earth.

    Perhaps humans putting the breaks on massively expensive academic scientific research and focusing on some of the more pressing matters that are blighting humanity for a decade or two wouldn't be such a bad thing in the long run

  19. Yes, expeditions to Space should be an international effort, not just a measure of power for each country.

  20. China is moving at a VERY fast pace. Also they have a much longer term mentality than most of use westerners!

    I doubt it will be that long before China are right up there – pardon the pun!!

  21. The subject is touchy. I feel that the United States should still be a leader in the field in aeronautics. But they should help out in the international efforts. So it is a combination of the two.

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  22. The world community would want the United States to help out with the international efforts. I know that it is selfish but I think that it is better that NASA shouldn't help out. NASA should keep to themselves so that they would remain a leader in aerospace. But eventually, you never know, the combined efforts of other countries might surpass NASA.

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  23. China is developing a space program too?
    I guess they will go into it fast.
    It is very intresting, thank you.

  24. It would would be incredible if you could increase alliances with other nations. I think the space programs would accomplish so much more

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  25. Venturing into space should be a unifying process among the nations of the earth, if not then we really aren't ready. Cooperation, relationships, always means politics and politics is far behind science. |

  26. I still struggle with the word race when taking about something as potentially important as human exploration of space. Why do we have to compete when with Russia/Cuba and China when surely a collaboration of skills, technology and resources could be pooled to the further advancement of mans exploration of his environment. By the way great article and look forward to Feb 4 2010.

  27. Russia is indeed ahead of space exploration. Well they way it looks China also want to join in with Russia to take part in space exploration.

  28. Article is very nicely written about strategies adopted by Two World powers, China and Russia. I am happy to find so many useful information here in the post, thanks for sharing it here. It is really good information blog.

  29. as said above, I think it is a good idea for Nasa to incorporate the resoures of other counties (both human and material) but it should not limit itself to partnering with countries with existing space programs.

  30. “Yes, many will not see some of these efforts as ever gaining the momentum to challenge our leadership in space.”

    – Why is the competition, the leadership more important than the outcomes? Surely the exploration of space, the discoveries and what it means to us as the human race is more important than who is taking the lead?

    “Should we leverage these relationships or create new ones?”

    -Why not a combination of both?

  31. Steven, that picture is absolutely incredible. I do think it is important that we levy our relationships as much as possible. I think it would only be beneficial for us to work with Mexico, and strengthen our ties with India. I'm not overly concerned about Cuba's gains, though I definitely feel that we should continue to nurture our alliances and gain new ones within NASA and beyond!

    -Charles
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  32. I have to agree with commenter #42 but at the same time I agree with your thoughts in the slow and steady wins the race, aspect.

    Enjoyed the article

  33. If we strengthen the ties with India I think it will be better. As we all know that people of India are very smart so they can help a lot.

  34. It would be better if all those countries who have space program united for the best result. As what they did in developing the Space Laboratory.

  35. The picture was taken successfully. It's a good idea that Russia decide to be a partner of Cuba.

  36. Article is very nicely written about strategies adopted by Two World powers, China and Russia. I am happy to find so many useful information here in the post, thanks for sharing it here. It is really good information blog.

  37. Leverage these relationships and create new ones are the tools to strengthen leadership in space. It is good to see the nations working together as a big team.

  38. world community would want the United States to help out with the international efforts. I know that it is selfish but I think that it is better that NASA shouldn't help out. NASA should keep to themselves so that they would remain a leader in aerospace. But eventually, you never know, the combined efforts of other countries might surpass NASA.

  39. “Slow and steady wins the race.” Yes, this quote is really true,this is a very informative writeup. Good work and thank you 🙂

  40. Yes, expeditions to Space should be an international effort, not just a measure of power for each country.

  41. It is a good idea to strengthen our ties with India – I read many facts good about this somewhere but I can't remember any lol xD

    Anyway I believe that 🙂 Great post.

    Regards Dave from

  42. I think all the countries of the world need to collaborate on space travel and exploration for the good of the human race as a whole.

  43. I think combined space efforts is an excellent idea. I think with combined efforts, the amount that could be achieved is far greater than we can even imagine.

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  44. This would be great if NASA combines with other countries for this purpose, and lead them to make milestones in space.

  45. The U.S. Government has made great technology leaps through the space program which has trickled down to the public such as the cell phone or microwave. I would always vote for more interaction with the Space program.

  46. “It is a great opportunity to make some ties with other countries an being a world leader in something good for everybody.”

    The problem is that right now the U.S. is borrowing soooo much money that even CNBC is starting to question how long this huge debt can go on. I am all for the space program but who is going to pay for it?

  47. Yes, expeditions to Space should be an international effort, not just a measure of power for each country.

  48. I will remember your blog place. Because I love you more ideas.
    After this I will read all your posts thankful.

  49. Russia is indeed ahead of space exploration. Well it looks China also want to join in with Russia to take part in space exploration. I don't care who'll win just hoping them do much for our world.

  50. “Taikonaut?” is that what they call a Chinese astronaut?

    What worries me is the stability of any space program from Mexico, Cuba and even China. They are only as stable as the societies who are behind them.

    If we did create relationships with these countries and shared in some projects I would be concerned about projects being undercut by political change and unrest in these countries.

  51. Why does everything have to be a test of power? Why can't we just team up and do what's in the best interest of everybody.

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  52. It's amazing seeing how hte different nations of the world work together and what they're able to achieve. We really should try and reduce our hostilities and focus more on new partnerships, rather than new enemies.

  53. I think partnering with a other agency would be helpful. Space exploration does not have to be a 1 man thing.

  54. Steven, that picture is absolutely incredible. I do think it is important that we levy our relationships as much as possible. I think it would only be beneficial for us to work with Mexico, and strengthen our ties with India. I'm not overly concerned about Cuba's gains, though I definitely feel that we should continue to nurture our alliances and gain new ones within NASA and beyond!

  55. It looks really great blog and it is nice to hear that NASA and our government cares about to find channels to communicate with people. anyhow just wishing you good luck.

    Alex,
    ,

  56. I really liked reading your post and quality content. With such a valuable blog i believe you deserve to be ranking even higher in the search engines.

  57. Yes you will discover new alliances and relationships being established from the worldwide community that don’t include NASA and I think it is a good thing to initiate new partneships with other countries but I do not think that Mexico has a Space Agency.

    Very interesting.

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  58. We really should try and reduce our hostilities and focus more on new partnerships, rather than new enemies.

  59. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it

  60. I really don't see the harm in teaming up with Mexico and India. With the right direction and leadership, a lot can be accomplished.

  61. I wish we would spend more tax payer money on the space program. Many good things come from the Space program unlike giving tax payer money to the Big Banks.

  62. …”China's steady efforts to establish a permanent Chinese Human presence in Space”. It would be great to see all the Countries working together to better the human race instead of each Country doing it for personal gain.

  63. Always a discussion. Should everything be the same or try to get new alliances. The european space program isn't bad at all…..
    We all have to wait and see. Thanks for sharing your knowledge
    Kind Regards,

  64. Look, I can see why US superiority in space exploration and the likely eventual space population is something to be very proud of but the discoveries made and advancements made are for all mankind to enjoy so yes, partnerships should be made with other space agencies if it is going to speed up the progress made.

  65. The combined efforts of other countries will probably surpass NASA.

    To better mankind, we should all work together as most of us would like to Space Travel.

  66. I wonder why Jose is working on a proposal with Mexico to establish a Mexican Space Agency. Mexico is such a financially poor Country. A better partnership would be China which is a more powerful Country.

  67. I think it is a good idea for Nasa to incorporate the resoures of other counties (both human and material) but it shouldnt limit itself to partnering with countries with existing space programs.

    Many countries, even small ones like my own New Zealand have resources that could aid Nasa even if it is only our geographical location. After all, it is all humans that will benefit.

    Our course the hard part will be to retain the focus of any Nasa partnerships on delivering the science.

    Unfortunately I see it is more probable that other countries will only contribute a token $$$$ amount and the venture will turn into a forum for national self promotion by the minor players.

  68. Always a discussion. Should everything be the same or try to get new alliances. The european space program isn't bad at all

  69. China seems to be able to out perform the U.S. on everything from manufacturing to space travel. It would be a good idea for the U.S. to partner with China instead of Mexico. In the Business World, it is usually wise to partner with a strong company instead of a weak company to further oneself but I guess in Politics, it is different.

  70. Nowadays nobody wants to partner with china anymore…!Since they are the best country (economical speaking)

  71. I really believe that large multi-national projects like this ISS program play a vital role in relationship building between countries.

  72. …”Nowadays nobody wants to partner with china anymore…!Since they are the best country (economical speaking).”…

    So you are saying that one should only partner with an Underdog (Mexico) instead of a Super Power (China)?

    Interesting thought…

    Maybe it is wise to partner with both the Underdog and the Super Power.
    Learn and learn and then all Countries become united for the better of mankind!

  73. Think like that: It would be better if all countries who have space program united for the best result.Thet this in developing the Space Laboratory.

  74. What a great photo this for me also symbolises where we are in our space program.

    Thanks for Sharing

  75. Dear Steven,
    My name is Juan Rojas. I recently concluded my Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University and I specialized in autonomous cooperative behaviors amongst a team of heterogeneous robots to aid in the construction of habitats for future space missions. For the last couple of years I have been closely following the developments of the Mexican Space Agency in the Legislature of the Mexican government. I am happy to say that it has finally been approved.

    I have talked to Fernando de la Pe�a, another one of the key members in establishing the space agency, and inquired about the possibility of applying for an astronaut position on behalf of Mexico. He said they are drafting a Space Act Agreement that may open this possibility.

    I saw your post and wanted to share my desire and dream with you. If there is any interesting possibilities for work let me know.

    Juan

  76. All the more reason to start learning Chinese:

    learn-chinese-from-movies.com

  77. At what point will the U.S. stop giving money to the Big Banks and start funding more NASA projects?

  78. Good information and pretty thorough as well, do you mind if I reference back to it? I’m blogging about this too, and you have some good info I hadn’t seen before and I’d like to post a similar article.

    I look forward to reading follow ups and hope it stays updated. It’s just what I was looking for and you’ve done a great job explaining it, I’m sure everyone appreciates the effort you put into sharing this so thanks for posting it.

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