European space chief suggests making room for India, China on International Space Station

The European Space chief said in an interview that the International Space Station should be opened up to astronauts from India and China. The $100 billion space station can be seen from Earth through naked eye.

It is a habitable research station which is supported by 15 countries including the United States, Russia and Germany. Countries like China and India are not part of this group.

“We need to be away from the opinion of being a closed association,” Johann-Dietrich Woerner said to German magazine Spiegel. The space station is funded through 2020 and an expansion until 2024 is under conversation.

An extension would give the U.S. space agency extra time to build up the technologies required for human missions to Mars and also opens an opportunity for commercial companies and researchers to gain from the heavy U.S. investment in the station. This was the long-term objective of NASA’s human space programme.

NASA’s cost for operating the station is $3 billion a year. The distance is about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth level.

Woerner commented that Europeans who are currently dependent on Russia to travel into space will launch their own manned rockets in five years. He also said that “I don’t give commitment that we Europeans will manage our own take-off into orbit.”

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