- The Chinese and Russian governments have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a lunar space station together.
- This space station will be “open to all countries,” said China’s national space administration.
- This comes after Russia dodged NASA’s invitation last year to join the Artemis Accords — a plan that was meant to unify how mankind explores space.
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China is now one step closer to achieving its goals of bringing its people to the moon.
The country’s national space administration announced this week that it had signed an agreement with Russia to build a lunar space station together. This station, they say, will be “open to all countries.”
The International Scientific Lunar Station will also “carry out a wide range of scientific research including exploration and utilization of the moon,” a statement from both agencies said.
This memorandum of understanding was signed by Dmitry Rogozin, general director of the Roscosmos State Corporation, and Zhang Kejian, head of China’s National Space Administration.
“China and Russia will use their accumulated experience in space science, research and development as well as the use of space equipment and space technology to jointly develop a road map for the construction of an international lunar scientific research station (ILRS),” the statement continued.
Al Jazeera previously reported that China had poured billions into its “space dream” in the hopes of one day building a crewed space station and sending humans to the moon.
This investment has clearly paid off. The Chang’e-5 space probe last December brought back samples that it had picked up during its moon landing. The success of the Chang’e-5 was noted at the time to be a landmark demonstration of China’s rapidly accelerating space capabilities.
According to a CNN report, the Chinese have now put in motion plans to send astronauts to the moon by the 2030s, which would make it the second country to send a man to the moon.
A statement from Roscosmos also noted that the organizations would “promote cooperation on the creation of an open-access ILRS for all interested countries and international partners, with the goal of strengthening research cooperation and promoting the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes in the interests of all mankind.”
This announcement to cooperate with the Chinese comes four months after Russia reportedly snubbed NASA’s invitation to join the Artemis Accords, a plan that was meant to facilitate the US’s preparations to build a permanent base on the moon and, eventually, send astronauts to Mars. At the time, NASA had announced its resolve to return to the moon in 2024, complete with plans to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by that deadline.
In October last year, however, Russia opted not to sign on to the Accords despite being courted by NASA, and despite seven other countries (including Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom) getting on board with the agreement.
The Artemis Accords, named after NASA’s moon-and-Mars-bound human-spaceflight program, also outlined guidelines for space exploration for nations to follow if they joined the effort: such as being peaceful, cooperating, and mining resources sustainably from space.