Speaking to Xinhua after viewing the launch of China's Shenzhou-9 mission on Saturday, Dr. Mazlan Othman said that the world "is waiting very anxiously for China's [future] space station to be completed," as this "will give another opportunity for international cooperation." Dr. Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist, is the director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. She is also deputy director-general of the UN in Vienna. "The world is watching China," she said.
She pointed out that on the unmanned Shenzhou-8 flight last year, for the first time China allowed foreign experiments on board, from Germany. Dr Othman said her office aims to ensure that such collaboration is "widened and deepened." In the future, she said, China's space station will offer the UN opportunities to conduct exeriments, adding, "Medical research in space has benefit[ed] people on Earth, which can be improved further when we have the Chinese space station [around 2020]."
Dr. Othman also pointed out that by 2020, when China's space station is scheduled to be completed, it may be the only space station in orbit. At the current moment, the agreement by the partners to extend the life of the International Space Station [from which China is excluded] extends to 2020.