BERLIN (AP) - The European Space Agency is exploring the possibility of cooperating with China on manned space missions by the end of the decade.
The head of ESA's human spaceflight division says some European astronauts are already learning Chinese in preparation for joint missions.
Thomas Reiter told The Associated Press on Tuesday that ESA would barter for seats on Chinese spacecraft in the same way it has long done with Russia and the United States.
Europe doesn't have its own spacecraft capable of putting humans into orbit.
Reiter says ESA would also like China to become a member of the International Space Station program if U.S. objections can be overcome.
China launched its first into space astronaut in 2003.
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.