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Report backs NASA exploration efforts as response to Chinese space program

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WASHINGTON — A new report used the growth of China’s space program to argue for continued support of NASA’s own exploration ambitions as well as legislation to assist the space industry and space traffic management.

The China Task Force Report, prepared by a group of Republican House members and released Sept. 30, covers a wide range of issues that group linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and saw as threats to the United States. Much of the report was devoted to issues of national security and the economy.

However, two pages of the 130-page report discussed space exploration. In it, the task force noted Chinese development of a space station and long-term, although as yet unscheduled, plans human lunar mission. “The U.S. should be concerned about the technological innovations and leadership role for the CCP that could come from missions crewed by [People’s Republic of China]-nationals to the Moon,” it stated,

The recommendations in that section of the report, though, addressed NASA’s space exploration programs. “As the CCP seeks to attract international partners to support its own space exploration goals and expand its influence, the U.S. must maintain its presence in low-Earth orbit, return U.S. astronauts to the Moon, chart a future path for human exploration of Mars, and maintain a steady commitment to space science missions,” it stated.

Those recommendations largely endorsed NASA’s current plans for returning humans to the moon by 2024. The report called for passage of a NASA authorization bill, such as the one introduced in the House in January, and funding that “fully supports” its exploration programs. It recommended maintaining the International Space Station and transitioning to commercial facilities, a balanced portfolio of science missions and use of public private partnerships in its programs. It also endorsed the Artemis Accords, the NASA initiative to