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Hadfield talks about space and China

Retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is calling for more co-operation with China in space and he wants it to be part of any international effort to return to the moon.

And he's not alone in his thinking. Space experts agree the Chinese can no longer be left out.

"I think right now a lot of people see it as kind of crazy to co-operate with the Chinese, but I think it's the next logical step," Hadfield recently told The Canadian Press.

China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003 and Hadfield noted the country's ambitious space program aims to eventually put an astronaut on the moon.

On Dec. 15, a Chinese Chang'e 3 rocket landed a rover on the lunar surface, making China the third country to do so after the United States and the former Soviet Union.

It was the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades.

He also pointed out that China launched an experimental space station in 2011. It will be replaced with a more permanent one which will be completed in 2020.

A Chinese astronaut said in September his country is willing to open its space station to foreign astronauts and even train them for such missions.

China was barred from participating in the current orbiting space station, largely because of U.S. objections over political differences.

Hadfield added that after the Russians launched the Mir Space Station in February 1986, other nations dropped in for a visit during its 15 years in orbit.

NASA says on its website that Mir hosted 125 cosmonauts and astronauts from 12 different nations before it was deorbited and sunk into the ocean in 2001.

Hadfield, who became a Canadian astronaut in 1992, visited Mir in November 1995 on the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis. He was the only Canadian to ever board the Russian space station.

"If you predicted in 1989 that I would fly on an American shuttle to go build a Russian spaceship, people would have said you were crazy," said Hadfield, who last March became the first Canadian to command the International Space Station.

"So I think looking forward, there's a great opportunity to include the Chinese in the world space program — the international space program."

Hadfield said a logical progression would be to include as many countries as possible in an international mission beyond Earth — "hopefully including China and India and the other countries that have launch capability and then progress to the next stepping stone, the next natural waypoint out to space, which is the moon."

The Canadian Press

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