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According to reports from the Roscosmos, Russia and China signed a memorandum on the creation of an international scientific lunar station.
“Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of the Roscosmos State Corporation, and the Head of the Chinese National Space Administration, Mr. Zhang Kejian, via videoconference on March 9, 2021, signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Russian Federation on cooperation in the creation of a scientific lunar station “, – reported by Roskosmos.
This memorandum implies the creation of a joint data center for lunar and deep space exploration. According to statements from 2019, the project includes the deployment of a space monitoring system for studying deep space with the prospect of international cooperation for providing the asteroid safety. Russia and China could create a joint operation system for the commercial spread of the results of high-precision remote sensing of the Earth.
“The Chinese have grown a lot in recent years, we respect their results, and in principle they are a worthy partner for us,” said the head of Roscosmos.
Shortly before the signing of the memorandum, in January, Roscosmos announced the Russian withdrawal from the American lunar project Deep Space Gateway. Russia has decided to quit the program of a joint space station with the United States. The head of Roscosmos said that Russia could not participate in the project on American terms, as NASA’s lunar project was “an American project with limited participation of external partners.” Rogozin pointed out that the Russian side is not interested in this option, as from 2028, Moscow plans to start its own lunar program.
Russia and the United States agreed on the creation of a joint space station Deep Space Gateway in the Moon orbit in 2017. SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, planned to launch modules into space in 2024 to assemble the first long-term circumlunar station. It was assumed that Russia would create 1-3 modules, as well as a unified docking mechanism for spacecraft that will fly to the station.
The fact that relations between Moscow and Washington in the space exploration are quite tense is evidenced by publications on Rogozin’s Twitter after the safe landing of the rover of NASA on Mars on February 18.
At the same time, the press secretary of the President of Russia, officially called the landing of the rover “the heritage of mankind,” Roscosmos congratulated NASA.
Meanwhile, the United States continues to develop its lunar program. The creation of the lunar station Gateway is part of the Artemis program, under which the United States plans to send a group of astronauts to the Moon. In September 2020, NASA presented its updated plan.
- The first phase of the program, Artemis 1, was scheduled for 2021: an unmanned flight of the Orion spacecraft installed on the Space Launch System rocket around the Moon and its return to Earth.
- Artemis 2 (scheduled for 2023): a ship with a crew on board would fly around the Moon.
- Artemis 3: the Moon landing, scheduled for 2024.
However, the program was reportedly delayed due to cost overruns.
While the States start a race to the Earth’s satellite, SpaceX is launching tourist flights to the Moon.
SpaceX announced plans to launch a commercial flight around the Moon in early 2017. A year later, the head of the company, Elon Musk, announced that Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, would be the first lunar tourist.
In 2018, Japanese entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa, announced the world’s first private passenger mission to fly by the Moon aboard Starship. Known as dearMoon, this mission is an important step toward enabling access for people who dream of traveling to space. Today, the dearMoon project opened the application process for eight civilians to join Yusaku Maezawa on the week-long Starship mission around the Moon in 2023.
Today’s confrontation between China and the United States is more and more resemblant to the period of the Cold War. Space is becoming one of the main fields of their rivalry. As on Earth, there is a division into partners and adversaries. Nevertheless, it was exactly the confrontation between the two centers of power that had already led to a spike in the development of human capabilities, and to a certain extent it served as a stimulus to enter the open space. One hopes that Man who already has experience of the Cold War will be able to use the new system parameters and apply them to the progress of a mankind, for which it is necessary to establish close international cooperation in such a globally strategically important area as space exploration.
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