House Commerce, Science, Justice, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf wrote to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden yesterday demanding that the NASA Administrator clarify his comments regarding possible participation by China on the International Space Station.The five ISS partners met on March 1st in Quebec City to discuss the future of the orbiting laboratory. During the discussions, Russia’s Vladimir Popovkin, Director General of the Russian Space Agency, and Jean-Jacques Dordian, head of the European Space Agency, stated their support for adding China and India as partners on the International Space Station. NASA Administrator Bolden reminded his fellow ISS partners that NASA is prohibited by law from bilateral activities with the Chinese. NASA’s Administrator then went on to state that he hoped that the space partners would continue their conversations with the Chinese. That suggestion did not sit well with the House CSJ Subcommittee Chairman, who is the author of the prohibition on bilateral activities between China and NASA.
This isn’t the first time that someone from the Obama Administration has crossed paths with Chairman Wolf regarding the prohibition on bilateral activities with China. Last year, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and in particular its Chief Dr. John Holdren, disregarded the prohibition on bilateral space activities between China and the U.S.. For that, Congress threatened OSTP’s budget with a significant cut.