Putin Approves Russia-China Moon Station Agreement

Moscow has stated that the agreement with Beijing is intended to solidify Russia’s leading role in space exploration.

President Vladimir Putin has signed a law formally approving an intergovernmental agreement between Russia and China on collaborating in the construction of an International Lunar Research Station (ILRS).

This document, which validates an agreement initially reached between Moscow and Beijing in 2022, was published on Wednesday on Russia’s official legal information portal.

The ratification law passed through the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, last month, and was subsequently approved by the upper house, the Federation Council, last week.

The agreement to cooperate on the lunar station “aligns with Russia’s interests, as it will contribute to strengthening the strategic partnership between Russia and China” and will facilitate “the consolidation of Russia’s leading role in the exploration of outer space, including the exploration and utilization of the Moon,” as outlined in an explanatory note attached to the law.

Working in conjunction with Beijing will also enhance the efficiency of research conducted at the ILRS, mitigate potential technical and financial risks associated with lunar exploration and utilization, and foster the training of scientists and other personnel for future space endeavors, the note further stated.

The ILRS is being developed jointly by Russia’s space agency Roscosmos and China’s National Space Administration (CNSA). However, both Moscow and Beijing maintain that the project, which aims to “promote humanity’s exploration and utilization of outer space for peaceful purposes,” remains open to all interested nations and international partners. Nine other countries, including South Africa, Egypt, and Pakistan, have already joined the project.

The space facility is envisioned to comprise a station orbiting the Moon and a lunar base on the surface. It will be supported by several smart mobile rovers and a hopping robot, as previously announced by CNSA and Roscosmos.

According to a roadmap provided by the Russian space agency, the ILRS is anticipated to become operational by 2035. The project is divided into several phases, with Russia and China planning to select a location for the lunar base by 2025, followed by construction efforts between 2026 and 2035.

Upon completion, the station will be dedicated to studying lunar topography, geology, and the internal structure of the Moon, while also supporting future space exploration endeavors, including manned missions to the Moon.