Russia and China to Formally Sign Lunar Research Station Agreement by End of Year

Russia and China continue to formalize cooperation in space.

Russo-Chinese cooperation in space

An intergovernmental agreement between Russia and China on cooperation in the creation of a so-called International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) may be signed before the end of this year. This was announced by Wu Yanhua, deputy head of the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA), as reported by TASS.

The initiative provides for the formation of a complex of experimental and research facilities on the surface and/or in orbit around the Moon. It is designed to carry out multidisciplinary and multipurpose research activities, including the study and use of the Moon, lunar observations, fundamental research experiments, etc.

ILRS Roadmap – Credit: CNSA

From roadmap to official agreement

Last spring, Russia and China signed a basic memorandum of understanding concerning the ILRS project and, during the Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) in June of last year, unveiled a roadmap for the future. Space News provides an overview of roadmap phases and projected milestones. This month, Wu Yanhua addressed the question of formality and stated that a formal agreement may be signed this year.

“At present, intergovernmental consultations between China and the Russian Federation on an agreement to establish an International Lunar Research Station are in full swing. Basically, the parties have reached a consensus. It is quite possible that it [the agreement] can be signed as soon as possible – this year,”

Wu Yanhua

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, also commented on the current levels of cooperation between Russia and China in relation to the ILRS in an article published in China’s Xinhua New Agency.

We are currently witnessing a wide field of opportunities in the development of our partnership … in space exploration, including the use of national navigation systems and in the implementation of the International Lunar Science Station project.

Vladimir Putin

The actual implementation of the program will, however, begin only in 2026. Until 2013, several missions will be aimed at, in particular, practicing technologies of landing on the lunar surface and delivery of cargo. Deployment of lunar infrastructure will start in 2031, with plans to complete it by 2035.

The ILRS project is currently open to all international partners at the time of writing.

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