China and 15 other countries have joined NASA officials this week to consider how they might cooperate with US plans for human exploration of the moon and Mars.
The three-day Washington workshop was concluded this Thursday and was the first in a series of meetings sponsored by the US space agency.
China has its own space program and but is not among the countries participating in the International Space Station.
The invitation of the Chinese delegation was particularly encouraged by US President George W. Bush, who is actively promoting international participation in this exploration effort.
Under Bush's plan, a robotic space probe could go to the moon as early as 2008, but no Americans are expected to travel there before 2020.
Besides China, other countries represented at the workshop included France, India, Japan and Russia.
NASA has been struggling with money problems as it aims to resume human space flight in 2005, two years after the 2003 shuttle Columbia disaster prompted the grounding of the three-ship shuttle fleet.
NASA's space station has been operating with a skeleton crew of two, down from three, since Columbia disintegrated over Texas on Feb. 1, 2003, killing all seven astronauts.
(CRI November 19, 2004)