Have you heard the news lately? A Soyuz capsule recently returned to Earth after a 6-month mission to the International Space Station, which was a complete success. Whoever these people are became international celebrities. There will likely be schools named after them. The only problem is the Chinese are not allowed on the International Space Station, which is totally racist. I mean, it's not like they will steal technology that is part of the ISS. I blame the U.S. government for that. It is holding humanity back by not letting the Chinese go to the ISS. What will it take for people to make Uncle Sam change his mind?
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The history of international cooperation in space is long and complex. As you likely know, mundane exploration in space began with the Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States. When the USSR launched Sputnik in 1957--the first satellite--Americans freaked out and decided to work on their space program. Then, the USSR put the first human, Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968), in space in 1961 aboard the Vostok, which freaked out Americans even more. That year, President Kennedy made his famous Moon Speech about putting a man on the moon and returning him safely home, which we did eight years later with Apollo 11. Once the United States declared itself the winner of the Space Race (that depends on whether you consider having the first man in space or on the Moon more important), it wasn't long before we began to lose interest. Indeed, it is my belief America would never have put Neil Armstrong on the Moon if the Russians hadn't challenged us to do so. The last man to walk the Moon's surface to date was Astronaut Eugene Cernan in 1972 with the Apollo 17 mission--nearly a half a century ago!
International cooperation made its first mark on history with the Apollo-Soyuz mission in which a Soviet and American spacecraft linked up in 1975. Other countries began forming space agencies, including Japan, China, India, and the countries of the European Space Agency (ESA). Of these countries, only the programs in the U.S., Russia, and China have put men and women into space using their own vehicles; all three have also put craft on the Moon, but only the Americans have put astronauts on the moon (Russia, China, and India have landed unmanned craft on the Moon).
As for the ISS, this is a partnership formed between the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan, and the ESA. Members of these participating countries have all been on the ISS crew. The reason why there have been no Chinese on the crew is that China is not a partner in the ISS. This is not a racist decision; it is a political one. China is seen as a competitor and rival among current space agencies, and they are actually doing quite well developing their own space program independently of America, Russia, and Europe.
That said, it is Papabear's opinion that the future of humanity is in space, and the successful exploration of space will not be fully realized without the cooperation of all nations. Indeed, it is my fondest hope that space travel will, one day, unify humanity with a common goal, bringing our countries closer together and even, perhaps, helping us all realize that we are all one people and that we should not separate ourselves based on nationality, race, religion, sex, or gender.
Perhaps one day....
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