China and Russia have recently respectively confirmed their plants to partner together in hopes to construct a research station on the moon.
This past Tuesday, Russia’s government space agency, “signed a memorandum of understanding” in order to work with China to build a lunar outpost named the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS).
The China National Space Administration also made an announcement saying:
The ILRS is a comprehensive scientific experiment base with the capability of long-term autonomous operation, built on the lunar surface and/or on the lunar orbit that will carry out multi-disciplinary and multi-objective scientific research activities such as the lunar exploration and utilization, lunar-based observation, basic scientific experiment and technical verification.
Within the framework of creation of the ILRS, China and Russia will use their experience in space science, R&D and use of space equipment and technology to jointly formulate a road map for the construction of the ILRS, and carry out the close collaboration on planning, demonstration, design, development, implementation and operation of the ILRS, including the promotion of the project to the international space communities.
Shortly after, CNN reported that Roscosmos made a statement, saying that the two groups planned to “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 our space for peaceful purposes in the interests of all mankind.”
Also according to CNN:
The lunar space station will be “a complex of experimental and research facilities” created on the moon’s surface and/or in orbit of the moon, according to the Roscosmos statement. The facilities will be designed for a range of multidisciplinary research, including “testing technologies with the possibility of long-term unmanned operation with the prospect of human presence on the moon.”
China and Russia will now work on a road map for how to design, develop, and operate the station, and plan “its presentation to the world space community,” Roscosmos said.
The United States has also made similar moves towards further moon travel as well using NASA’s Artemis program. The Artemis program plans to have astronauts on the surface of the moon again by the mid-2020s for the purpose of developing a more defined human existence on the moon by the end of the 2020s.
NASA is currently working with other countries as part of the Artemis program as well. Eight other countries have signed the Artemis Accords, which has created a solid pathway for them to work with the United States in the program. Brazil has shown that is also plans to sign the accords.
According to Space.com, China is not able to “participate substantially in the NASA moon push, at least not without new U>S> legislation.” Since 2011, NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy have been banned from working on space projects “with their Chinese counterparts, unless Congress approves such cooperation in advance.”