Next time POTUS needs to talk space with China, itā€™ll be a straightforward process: it turns out Washington and Beijing now have an emergency ā€œspace hotlineā€ to ensure conflicts donā€™t arise.

The Financial Times reports that the new phone lineā€”which sounds an awful lot like the Red Telephone used to communicate between Moscow and Washington following the Cuban Missile Crisisā€”will ā€œserve as a diplomatic safety valve.ā€ The newspaper adds that by ā€œsharing technical information, officials hope that misunderstandings can be avoided and problems quickly resolved.ā€

Advertisement

The new line will certainly streamline space chats. Speaking to the FT, US assistant secretary of state Frank Rose explained:

ā€œUp until about nine or 10 months ago, we had to send notifications [of potential collisions, approaches or tests] to the Chinese via their ministry of foreign affairs. The chain would go from JSpOC [Joint Space Operations Center, at Vandenburg air base in California] to the Pentagon to the state department, to the US embassy in Beijing, and then on to a contact there.ā€

Itā€™s not the first space hotline to exist. In the past, the president has also used a direct link with Moscow to chat about space issues. But Chinaā€™s an increasingly important player in the international space race, and clearly the U.S. wants to be able act swiftly if things look not to be going to plan.

Advertisement

[FT via Engadget]

Top image: Shutterstock