The collaboration between China and Russia comes as the US has prohibited China’s military-linked space agency from almost any work with NASA
China and Russia have announced their intentions to build a new lunar research station on the moon together, launching a new era of collaboration between the two countries, set in space.
According to a statement published on the website for the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) would also grant access to be used by other nations.
No timeline had been given for the construction of the new ILRS, which had been described as a “comprehensive scientific experiment base with the capability of long-term autonomous operation”.
This comes after the first pieces of meteorites to have been found in the UK for three decades have been discovered in a village within the Cotswolds. Scientists have described the new find as “incredibly exciting” and have confirmed that the rocks are pieces of a very rare type of meteorite, which is the first of its kind to have ever been found in the UK.
The lunar research station could be built either on the lunar surface or within lunar orbit to in order to conduct “scientific research activities such as the lunar exploration and utilisation, lunar-based observation, basic scientific experiment and technical verification,” the statement had said.
NASA had intended to establish a moon gateway outpost that would be orbiting the moon by as soon as the mid-2020s as part of its Artemis Programme which would see the next man and first woman to land on the moon by the year 2024, although a recent audit report has suggested that this timeline may have to be pushed back.
A memorandum of understanding the workings of the project has been signed off by CNSA’s administrator, Zhang Kejian, as well as Dmitry Rogozin, who is the chief of the Russian space agency called Roscosmos.
The CNSA’s space programme had initially been driven by Russian expertise within its early years, with the Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft closely resembling the Soyuz capsules that were used by Roscosmos.
Despite the general approach towards the co-operation between different countries in space, US Congress has prohibited almost all forms of contact between CNSA and NASA, as a result of concerns about the theft of technology and the military links and secrecy and of CNSA.
This comes after Moscow is facing international outrage over its treatment of Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption and pro-democracy campaigner, who was jailed in February for almost three years.
Russia currently participates in the International Space Station, but the successes of Roscosmos has since been muted the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The country has recently successfully test-launched its heavy lift Angara A5 space rocket in December for the second time, following lengthy delays, as well as technical problems with the launch.
China so far has planned four crewed missions to take place this year which will work on the country’s first permanent Earth-orbiting space station. This core module may potentially be launched as soon as next month.