NASA administrator Charles Bolden decided to give banned Chinese scientists a second chance to attend the conference for NASA’s Kepler space telescope program. Originally U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf restricted Chinese scientists to come to the conference. This was because of security issues that have come up in the past.
Just last March a Chinese aerospace contractor was trying to steal some of NASA’s highly sensitive information and take them to China. The contractor, Bo Jiang, was able to get ahold of the information because he worked for NASA’S Langley’s Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Jiang was arrested in Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. as he was boarding. He failed to disclose all of the electronic devices he was carrying on his one way flight to China.
Wolf, told reporters in March he believed Jiang was spying and had access to highly sensitive documents, including source codes for high-tech imaging used in missiles, unmanned aerospace equipment and other technology desired by the Chinese government. Before Bolden wanted to give China a second chance many scientists wanted to boycott the event.
“In good conscience, I cannot attend a meeting that discriminates in this way. The meeting is about planets located trillions of miles away, with no national security implications,” Geoff Marcy, an astronomy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in an email that was published by a number of media outlets.
Now there is no need for a boycott because Bolden promises to re-contact the Chinese scientists immediately after the government shutdown. The fact that six Chinese scientists were refused was “unfortunate,” Bolden said. The problem is even though the participants are now being reconsidered they still need to go through the proper security clearance that can take several weeks to pass. .
The conference will be discussing NASA’s Kepler space telescope program. Currently the telsescope is being used to search for planets outside our solar system. The conference is scheduled to begin on the fourth of November. The location was originally going to be held in the Ames Research Center but now the center is closed because of the government shutdown. The location is now uncertain and some scientists are trying to push for the conference to be held in a non-NASA location.