China and Russia have announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the construction of an international lunar research station. This is the latest agreement between China and Russia on a number of cooperative decisions on space projects. The signing of the memorandum coincides with Russia’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the first manned spacecraft flight and the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first space station.
The China National Space Administration is building the lunar research station in conjunction with Roscosmos, Russia’s state corporation responsible for space flights, cosmonautics programs, and aerospace research. It will be an integrated scientific test base, built on the lunar surface or in lunar orbit, for the purpose of scientific research activities such as exploration and utilization of the moon itself, lunar-based observation, basic scientific experiments and technology verification. Both parties claim that this research station will be open to all interested national and international partners.
There is no detailed plan or timetable for the construction of the station. A reference may be the construction process of the International Space Station (ISS), which is now in operation while orbiting about 400 kilometers from the Earth. This space station, with the participation of 15 countries, took a total of 10 years to accomplish.
This cooperation between China and Russia is of considerable importance to each side. Russia’s space program is clearly lagging behind in comparison with the many projects such as the United States and China’s exploration of the Moon and Mars in recent years. By joining forces with China, Russia has a chance to return to the ranks of the leading nations in space technology. If this cooperation with Russia is successful, it could be one of the largest international collaborations in China’s space history. In short, Russia wants to rebuild its former glory in space technology, and China wants to catch up with the United States’ dominance.
Source: BBC Chinese, March 10, 2021