China seeks to establish space alliances with Gulf countries

China wants to expand collaboration with other growing space powers like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In the first China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit, which took place in Riyadh earlier this month, several priority sectors for the upcoming three to five years were identify.

In his keynote address on Dec. 9, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “China is ready to engage with GCC region on remotely sensed and communications satellite, aerospace infrastructure, space utilization, and the selection and training of astronauts.”

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar form the intergovernmental GCC group.

“China invites astronauts from the GCC to visit its space station for collaborative missions and space science research with Chinese colleagues. The statement stated that a joint China-GCC center for lunar and deep space travel is being consider. “China welcomes GCC countries’ participation in payload collaboration in its aerospace projects.


Although the language suggests a vast scope and ambition, there is no evidence of a commitment to finance or practicality; rather, it represents an early expression of interest in creating collaboration in these areas.

The speech demonstrates how China’s Tiangong space station, which started operating last month with the transfer of its first crew, would be utilize to collaborate with other nations.

China has regularly stated that it is willing to train astronauts from other nations and has solicited interest from other countries for astronauts traveling to Tiangong.

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Chinese international astronaut cooperation’s operational details, such as how any necessary language teaching will be control, have not been made public. In 2003, China launched its first crewed flight, and in late November, it launched its tenth, the six-month Shenzhou-15 mission.

China is looking at expanding the three-module Tiangong station, according to a recent statement from a China Academy of Space Technology representative. As a result, there would be more space available for housing astronauts. The latest generation crew spacecraft being develope by CAST will be able to send up to six astronauts into low Earth orbit.

China is also looking for collaborators in the field of lunar exploration, particularly for its plan to establish an ILRS. Notably, three of the six GCC nations—the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain—have already ratified the Artemis Accords, which the United States is spearheading.


A more tangible result of the summit was the announcement by Origin Space, a company based in Shenzhen that uses space resources, that it will open a subsidiary. A research and development center and an exhibition center inside the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone, a joint operation under the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Gulf region has seen a significant rise in space activity recently. An Emirati astronaut fly a lengthy trip to the International Space Station thanks to a deal with Axiom Space, and the UAE has launched its spacecraft to Mars and the moon. The country is reportedly considering sending an airlock module to NASA’s Lunar Gateway.

The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs and China’s human spaceflight agency devised a cooperation framework under which Saudi Arabia will also launch an experiment in Tiangong. The investigation will examine how solar cells operate when exposed to cosmic rays. 2018 saw the Long March 2D launch of Saudisat 5A and 5B satellites.

In September, the UAE and China agreed for Rashid II rover to launch alongside the Chang’e-7 lunar south pole landing vehicle. Currently, that mission is pillory to take place in 2026.

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