China wants to buy Russian rocket engines as BRICS boosts space cooperation

© Alexey Filippov
At the first meeting of the BRICS nations’ space agencies, the five-member bloc agreed to set up a joint grouping of satellites and share data. Beijing has shown particular interest in purchasing Russian rocket engines.

At the inaugural meeting, which was held in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai, the heads of the space agencies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa agreed to step up cooperation in space, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos Igor Komarov said on Tuesday.

At the meeting, which will now become regular, the countries “agreed that in the future, we will set up a joint grouping of satellites for Earth remote sensing,” Komarov said, adding that the countries have also been thrashing out the legal details involved in the agreement, which will set up a framework for data exchange between the space agencies on Earth remote sensing.

“We think that, for our countries, going in this direction will allow us to increase the pool of information we receive about Earth by several times,” he noted, pointing out the immense practical advantages of sharing observation data that can be used for better natural disaster relief and prevention, as well as environment protection purposes. 

The countries also agreed to deepen cooperation in the spheres of navigation and space research, he said.

Meanwhile, China has expressed an explicit interest in acquiring Russia’s renowned rocket engineering.

“We are talking about practical spheres such as engines. Our Chinese partners are interested in purchasing engines, as well as creating perspective engines and carrier rockets, including heavy-lift launch vehicles,” Komarov said, as cited by RIA Novosti.

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The next meeting of the BRICS’ space agencies is to take place this spring in Russia.

“We have agreed to make these meetings regular, and the next one will take place in Moscow in May-June 2017,” Komarov noted, speaking on the sidelines of Airshow China 2016, which has coincided with the meeting.