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Le cargo russe Progress MS-16 décolle des installations de lancement de Baïkonour, au Kazakhstan.

Russia and China plan lunar station

Russia and China announced Tuesday the signing of a memorandum for the joint construction of a station “on the surface or in orbit” of the Moon, which again concentrates space ambitions.

In a statement, the Russian space agency Roskosmos specified that this project of “International lunar scientific station” with the Chinese space agency will be opened to “all the interested countries and international partners”.

However, the text does not specify a timetable or the sums invested for this project.

According to Roskosmos, Russia and China will establish a “road map” and conduct “close collaboration” in order to bring this achievement to fruition.

“The International Lunar Science Station consists of a set of experimental research tools created on the surface or in orbit of the Moon and designed to carry out multidisciplinary work,” the statement said.

This announcement comes as Russia seems to be lagging behind in the face of multiple space projects from other states or private companies.

Many programs aimed at the Moon are also considered as test beds to Mars, like the American Artemis.

Last year, Russia lost its monopoly on manned flights to the International Space Station (ISS) after the first successful mission of this kind by the American company Space X. This company is planning a flight to the moon as early as 2023.

Although benefiting from a very large experience dating from the Soviet period, the Russian space sector suffers from difficulties in innovating, as well as from problems of financing and corruption.

This new lunar project, if it comes to fruition, could jumpstart Moscow into the race with the help of a partner who does not hide its great space ambitions.

In mid-February, China thus placed its “Tianwen-1” probe in orbit around Mars, a first for the country, carried out nearly seven months after its launch in July.

In December, she had also safely returned samples of the Moon, during a first mission of this type in more than 40 years.

For their part, the United States, with which Russia continues to maintain good collaboration in the space sector, successfully landed a fifth rover on Mars at the end of February.

Under former President Donald Trump, Washington had set the return of Americans to the moon for 2024 as part of the Artemis program, but his successor, Joe Biden, has not yet given his priorities for space exploration.

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