9 Mar 2021 17:29

Roscosmos reports signing lunar station memorandum with China

MOSCOW. March 9 (Interfax) - Russia and China have signed a memorandum to build an international lunar research station, the Roscosmos state corporation said.

"Roscosmos State Corporation General Director Dmitry Rogozin and head of the CNSA [China National Space Administration] Mr. Zhang Kejian signed a memorandum of mutual understanding between the government of the People's Republic of China and the government of the Russian Federation on cooperating in the construction of the international lunar research station (ILRS) on behalf of the governments of Russia and China in the course of a videoconference held on March 9, 2021," Roscosmos said.

Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui told Interfax earlier on Tuesday that the memorandum was being prepared in furtherance of the Roscosmos-CNSA agreement on cooperating in the establishment of a joint database center for exploring the Moon and deep space.

It was reported on February 12 that the Russian government had backed Roscosmos' proposal on signing a memorandum of mutual understanding with China on cooperation in the international lunar research station project. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed the relevant resolution.

Roscosmos said in January that Russia had quit the U.S. lunar project Gateway.

Rogozin said on Twitter on October 19, 2020, that Roscosmos and CNSA had held a videoconference on bilateral cooperation issues, "including the lunar research program."

Rogozin said in July 2020 that negotiations on building a joint lunar base were being conducted with China. He noted that other countries, among them the United States, might be invited to join the project.

While speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June 2019, Rogozin said that Russia was considering the possibility of building a joint lunar base with China. In his words, the project envisaged the deployment of a space surveillance system on the Moon for deep space research purposes and prospective international cooperation in asteroid and comet security measures. Rogozin added that Russia and China could also establish a joint system of operators for commercial distribution of high-precision remote sensing deliverables.