On Friday 18 November, Sun Laiyan, Administrator of the China National Space Administration, and ESA Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, signed an Intergovernmental Framework Agreement for space cooperation for peaceful purposes.
The signing ceremony took place in the Diao Yu Tai Guest House, Beijing, in the presence of the Chinese State Councillor, Mrs Chen Lizhi, and representatives of the diplomatic community. This is the first Framework Agreement that China has signed with ESA and it will facilitate cooperation between ESA and China in a number of areas including space science, Earth observation, telecommunications, navigation and microgravity research.
China is not a newcomer to space. It has had a rocket programme since the 1950s and has been launching satellites for more than 30 years. In October this year it made its second successful human spaceflight mission when two Chinese astronauts onboard Shenzhou VI orbited the Earth for five days carrying out experiments. During the signing ceremony Jean-Jacques Dordain told the Chinese representatives that he was very impressed with China's space capacities and in particular with the recent successful Shenzhou launch.
China and ESA are already cooperating on a number of space projects, one of which is the Double Star Programme with CNSA and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, providing complementary data to the Cluster programme. Another important project is the Dragon Programme set up by ESA and the National Remote Sensing Centre of China.
This focuses on using data from ESA's ERS and Envisat missions for science and applications development. The Dragon Programme proved its usefulness earlier this year during China's rainy season, when imagery of flooding acquired by Envisat's Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar sensor allowed the Chinese authorities to swiftly assess affected areas and plan their responses.
Now that the Framework Agreement has come into force, ESA looks forward to further cooperation with China and closer collaboration in ESA's space programmes.
China National Space Administration
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