ANALYSIS: Time for the U.S. to Partner with China in Space?
NASA is banned by Congress from any contact, collaborations or partnerships with China, primarily due to concerns about technology transfer. Republican congressman Frank Wolf has been leading that charge.
"I understand Congressman Wolf's concerns, but I think his approach is counter-productive," Kulacki said.
"Banning contact between NASA and potential counterparts in China only gives greater authority to the more nationalistic elements within the Chinese space community, and it minimizes the voices of a very large internationalist constituency within the Chinese space community," he said.
"The ban really strengthens attitudes that are not conducive to better relations between the United States and China and it weakens the position of those who take a more positive attitude toward the United States," Kulacki added.
The mission launched early Tuesday from China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
In addition to Nie Haisheng, 48, who is making his second spaceflight, the crew includes Zhang Xiaoguang, 47, a former Air Force pilot, and Wang Yaping, 33, who has become the second woman from China to fly in space.