China and Russia agree to build a space station on the Moon
The two space agencies announce the agreement while NASA prepares a new landing with humans on the satellite
BarcelonaThe Chinese and Russian space agencies have announced that they will build an international research space station on the Moon. In a joint statement, the Russian space agency Roscosmos and the Chinese National Space Administration explain that the facilities will be built on the surface, in orbit or both, and that they will be available to other countries for multidisciplinary research, including research on the exploration and use of the Moon.
"China and Russia will use their accumulated experience in space science and technology to jointly develop a roadmap for the construction of the station", the joint statement, written in Mandarin, said, adding that the two countries will work together on the design and development of the station.
As Russia prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first manned space flight, this will be China's major space project. Beijing has entered the space race late but strong and is emerging as a new superpower increasingly capable of competing with the US's NASA. Beijing already made history in January 2019 when it became the first country in the world to land on the far side of the Moon and, shortly after, the first country to sprout a seed in that environment, albeit inside a preserved watertight compartment and not on lunar soil. In December, China's Chang-e 5 probe landed in Mongolia with samples collected on the Moon for the first time in 44 years.
Russia, the eclipsed pioneer
Russia, which had been a pioneer in space research, has been eclipsed by China and the United States, and last year lost its monopoly on sending astronauts to the International Space Station after the launch of Space X, from the American company belonging to tycoon Elon Musk. After this first private mission, the United States has launched the Artemis program to send a man and a woman to the Moon, in the first lunar landing with humans since 1972. Russia has also announced a new manned mission to the Moon for 2031.
The other arena in the space race is Mars. After the landing of NASA's Perseverance robot, the Red Planet awaits the Tianwen-1 mission, which has been in orbit since last month and is scheduled to attempt the complex landing in May. Thus, the Sino-Russian alliance competes with the United States, which despite its pre-eminent position sees Xi Jinping's government stepping on the accelerator and demonstrating that it has the potential for major milestones.