Mar 29, 2023 - Science
NASA head criticizes China's space agency for lack of transparency
NASA administrator Bill Nelson criticized China's space agency on Wednesday, saying it lacks transparency and has endangered other countries.
Why it matters: Uncontrolled reentries of rockets launched by China in recent years have raised safety concerns and prompted calls for additional established norms of behavior for space-faring nations.
- However, the effectiveness of those established norms would depend on the openness of countries' space agencies and their willingness to cooperate with other space agencies.
What they're saying: "China is simply not cooperative, nor are they transparent," Nelson told Axios space reporter Miriam Kramer at the second annual What's Next Summit on Wednesday.
- "They've put up three elements of their space station, for example," Nelson said. "And each time, in their booster rocket they did not reserve enough fuel in order to have a controlled reentry, and, therefore, it comes tumbling back through the atmosphere."
- "On the second time that they did it, we thought it was going into Greece and then into Saudi Arabia. Thank goodness it went into the Indian Ocean."
State of play: Nelson has condemned China's unguided reentries before.
- He shared a story Wednesday about a time he met with China's ambassador to the U.S. During the meeting, Nelson said he told the ambassador that China's space agency could increase its transparency by sharing lunar samples it returned from the moon in 2020, as the U.S. did after the Apollo Moon missions.
- "A year later, nothing," Nelson said.
Go deeper: The power center in space moves to the Moon