NASA has been working to send a crew to Mars but faces significant challenges, according to the Nov. 24 Fed Page article “A flight to Mars poses risks that NASA can’t handle right now, report says .”

As a volunteer docent, I recently met a group of Chinese scientists visiting the National Air and Space Museum. I asked them their thoughts on the future of their country’s advances in space. They all mentioned their wishes to work cooperatively with the United States in space exploration. They also said that the more the United States and China cooperate in space, the less likely they will be to see military confrontations.

This echoes what Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.), then a representative, said in 2006: “I think the manned space program has a potential all out of proportion to its size and cost for improving the diplomatic, political and military relations between the United States and China.”

U.S. policymakers should investigate avenues for cooperation with China’s civilian space program on deep-space exploration. The script for deep-space exploration is constantly evolving, and the United States could influence its direction if it engages other nations.

Kent Wang, Potomac Falls