Russia and China to work together on space explorations, Moon missions from 2018

Russia and China to work together on space explorations, Moon missions from 2018
Russia and China are due to sign a mutual agreement on space exploration from 2018 to 2022, a spokesperson from Russia’s official space agency has confirmed. It will include satellite development and missions to the Moon.

The deal, which covers five fields of space exploration, is expected to be signed in September, RIA Novosti reported Monday.

"The approval of the new program is planned during the next meeting of the subcommittee on outer space of the Russian-Chinese commission for the preparation of regular meetings of the heads of government, which is scheduled for September 14, 2017 in Moscow," a spokesperson from Roscosmos, told RIA.

The statement confirms reports by the Chinese network CTGN, which said Sunday that Moscow and Beijing were working towards a joint venture for the 2018-2022 period, but said the agreements were to be signed in October.

The five areas of cooperation are satellites, developing new materials, researching space debris and remote monitoring of Earth as well as lunar missions. These arrangements will boost bilateral co-operation as well as both countries' space programs in the face of uncertain relations with Western partners.

"China's and Russia's respective cooperation with some Western countries in aerospace sometimes is hindered by trust issue as aeronautic and space developments are closely related to military fields," Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine told the Global Times newspaper Tuesday.

"Russia's space industry has faced various problems, especially brain drain and shortage of funds after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia could offer previous experience and aeronautic infrastructure and China could contribute new ideas and needed resources, which would also avoid overlapping investment on same projects."

Earlier in August, TASS reported that Russian launch service provider and Roscosmos subsidiary Glavcosmos was also expected to play a role in the joint venture, helping the Chinese conduct experiments on the International Space Station (ISS).

This isn’t the first such agreement between Beijing and Moscow, but with a time span of five years, it is the longest. Moscow and Beijing even discussed joint lunar missions before, with then Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin noting in 2015 that China was being considered as a potential partner for a research base Russia was aiming to build on the Moon by 2024.

Russia collaborates with NASA and the European Space Agency on projects such as the ISS which China is not a member of. However, Beijing has announced plans to have its own manned space station operation by 2019, and is also planning to set up a base on the Moon.