Story at a glance

  • The two countries said they will use their collective experience in space research to develop a roadmap for the construction of the lunar base.
  • Officials said it would be located on or around the moon.
  • Russia’s space agency said in a statement the complex will support a variety of research experiments, “with the possibility of long-term unmanned operation with the prospect of human presence on the moon.”

China and Russia are joining forces to build an international space station on the moon. 

Leaders from both countries' space programs earlier this week signed an agreement for the joint construction of what they call the International Scientific Lunar Station — a complex of experimental research facilities located on the surface or in the orbit of the moon. 


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A memorandum of understanding on the project was signed by Dmitry Rogozin, general director of Russia’s Roscosmos State Corporation, and Zhang Kejian, head of China’s National Space Administration, on Tuesday. 

The two countries said they will use their collective experience in space research to develop a roadmap for the construction of the lunar base. Details of what the proposed station will look like are not clear at this time. 

“The International Lunar Research Station is a comprehensive scientific experiment base that can carry out multi-disciplinary and multi-objective scientific research activities such as the moon's own exploration and utilization, moon-based observation, basic scientific experiment and technical verification on the lunar surface or lunar orbit, and long-term autonomous operation,” the Chinese National Space Administration said Tuesday.

Russia’s space agency said in a statement the complex will support a variety of research experiments, “with the possibility of long-term unmanned operation with the prospect of human presence on the moon.” 

The research station will be open to all interested countries and international partners in an effort to strengthen research cooperation and promote space exploration “for peaceful purposes in the interests of all mankind,” China’s space agency said.

The move marks Beijing’s latest push to explore the moon alongside rivals such as NASA, which is prohibited from working with China under a 2011 law. China is looking to carry out crewed missions to the moon by the 2030s. If successful it would be only the second country to put a human on the lunar surface behind the U.S.

The agreement also suggests Russia, which has had a decades-long relationship with NASA on the International Space Station (ISS), sees its future in space exploration primarily as a cooperative effort with China. 

NASA has secured agreements with nine other countries to participate in the U.S. Artemis program. The program is aiming to carry out “humanity’s return to the moon” with plans to send astronauts to the lunar surface over the next decade to establish a long-term, sustainable human presence. 

While the U.S. and Russia have had a long collaborative relationship in their space exploration efforts, Russia is not among the countries participating in the U.S. lunar program.


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Published on Mar 12, 2021