Whenever President Obama needs to talk to Beijing about an urgent space business related to the two nations’ space satellites, problems may get solved through a simple phone call since the U.S. and China now have an emergency space hotline at their disposal.
The hotline, which brings back chilling memories about the Red Telephone used by the U.S. and Soviet Union to solve the Cuban Missile Crisis, in not a very distant past, was designed to act like a ‘diplomatic safety valve.’
The two countries can now use the line to settle their space issues and share technical data that may help them quickly solve problems and stay away from preventable conflicts related to possible misunderstandings.
US Assistant Secretary of State Frank Rose recently told reporters that without a hotline the U.S. has to send notifications to China about incoming satellite impacts or tests through the country’s ministry of foreign affairs. But that is a lengthy process that may not prevent disasters in timely manner.
Rose explained that the notifications are currently sent by the Calif.-based Joint Space Operations Center to the Pentagon, which forwards them to the State Department , which contacts the U.S. embassy in China, which later hands them over to a Chinese contact in Beijing. With the new space hotline, this bureaucratic hassle is expected to simply vanish and things should happen a lot faster.
Nevertheless, the idea of a ‘space hotline’ is not entirely new. The U.S.A. used a similar line to contact Moscow at the beginning of the space era. But as China’s plans to conquer space have recently grown larger, the U.S. plans to be able to solve problems before things escalate into a diplomatic conflict.
A couple of months ago, China unveiled its project to land on the far side of the moon. If the mission is successful, the country would be the first to touch the uncharted surface. In September, Chinese media announced that the state wants to land a Chang’e-4 spacecraft on the moon by 2020.
China has spent several years on the construction of the Chang’e probe, which was named after the Chinese goddess of the moon. The Chinese also plan to return sample of the lunar soil to Earth if the mission achieves its main goal.
A couple of years ago, China became the third nation on the planet to land on the sunlit side of the moon, while last year the country completed its first lunar return mission.
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