Sino-European Cooperation?

The ESA is contributing to this Double Star mission by providing eight on-board scientific instruments — five on Probe-1 and three on Probe-2. It is the first time Chinese hardware and European equipment have been wired together, Liu said.

By combining the Double Star satellites and the mini-flotilla of four identical spacecraft the European agency launched in 2000 in its Cluster II Programme, scientists will be able to probe space from a six-dimensional perspective, the first time this has ever been possible, Liu said.

I’m totally lost as to what this means, long-term, for any NASA-ESA partnering. Does it mean that China will seek to become another heavy-launch operator along with the Russians? Does it mean that ESA will tire of dealing with NASA and throw their lot in with the Chinese totally?

I’m just sorta sitting here, mulling this.