Chinese Space Officials Leave NASA Exploration Workshop

WASHINGTON -- Chinese space officials skippedout early on an invitation-only exploration workshop sponsored by NASA.

Roughly 180people from industry, academia and government participated in the four-dayworkshop held April 25-28 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center here.

Among themwere 60 international participants representing 12 countries. But none of thehalf-dozen China National Space Administration officials that NASA invitedstayed past the workshop's opening day, according to participants. "Apparentlythey were not at the individual breakout sessions," NASA Administrator ShanaDale said. "I don't know the reasons why. It was nothing on our part."

Workshopparticipants were divided into seven breakout groups to spend the rest of theweek brainstorming ideas for what to do on the surface of the Moon. Dale calledthe workshop "an incredibly productive week with exactly what we wanted--free-flowing dialogue with the opportunity for creative andout-of-the-box thinking."

Dale saidthe dialogue begun in Washington would continue at a space exploration workshopthe European and Italian space agencies are holding in May, as well asadditional venues throughout the year.

"As youknow 2005 was the year in which we defined our exploration architecture," Dalesaid, "and 2006 is the year we plan to develop a global exploration strategyfor what we do on the surface of the moon and also the preliminary planning forMars and other destinations."

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