BEIJING, June 1 -- The European Space Agency (ESA) supports China's inclusion in the International Space Station (ISS) partnership, the agency's director -general Jean-Jacques Dordain said on Monday.
He made the remarks on Monday during the ongoing Global Lunar Conference in Beijing, which is organized by the International Astronautical Federation and the Chinese Society of Astronautics.
Dordain said international cooperation on space exploration has been progressing slowly. To achieve more, the partnership needs to be expanded, he said.
"I am really willing to support the extension of the partnership of the ISS to China and South Korea. Obviously, this should be a decision by all partners, not the decision by one partner," he said.
The ISS is jointly built and run by the United States, Russia, ESA's 11 member countries, Canada, Japan and Brazil. China is excluded from the ISS.
But with growing power based on its independent technological development, China is being invited to more international cooperatives in space exploration in recent years.
Dordain noted that he was glad to see that on June 3, the first Russian, Chinese and ESA group will participate in the Mars-500 mission.
"This is the first time that we shall have quasi-astronauts from Russia, China and ESA living together for 520 days. This is a good step," he said.
The Mars-500 project is a three-stage experiment including a 250-day virtual flight to Mars, a 30-day stay on the planet and a 240-day journey back to earth.
Wang Yue, a space trainer from China, will join five other volunteers from Russia, Italy and France in the project. Three experiments proposed by China will also be conducted during the mission.
Chen Qiufa, vice-minister of industry and information technology in charge of the lunar exploration mission, said at the conference that China is willing to join international cooperatives, and share technologies and research results with other countries, while independently developing its own technologies.