China and Russia plan to build a lunar research station together. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) and Roscosmos, Russia’s federal space agency, signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday (March 9) on the construction of a moon outpost called the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS). The CNSA announcement did not provide a targeted timeline for the lunar research station. The proposed station, which once complete would be open to use by other countries, “is a comprehensive scientific experiment base with the capability of long-term autonomous operation,” according to a statement released by China’s space agency.
On the other part, NASA is developing the Artemis program which will send astronauts to the lunar surface in the mid-2020s and establish a long-term, sustainable human presence on and around the moon by the end of the decade. China is not an Artemis partner. Since 2011, NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy have been prohibited from cooperating on space projects with their Chinese counterparts, unless Congress approves such cooperation in advance. The former Soviet Union put the first human in space in 1961. It has built and launched sections of the International Space Station, sent periodic re-supply missions to the orbiting laboratory, and provided transportation to and from the ISS for astronauts from the U.S. and other countries.