Moscow and Beijing have inked a couple of agreements on cooperation relative to activities of space exploration, the protection of astronomical technologies for peaceful purposes, and the exploration of the moon. Russia is expected to deploy a spacecraft to the lunar surface in 2022 and China is planning to do so as well by 2023. China is also planning to construct a base on the moon to be managed by artificial intelligence robots.
Russian space agency Roscosmos has signed an agreement of intent with the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) to collaborate on the exploration of the Moon and other deepspace destinations.
As part of the agreement, both the parties will explore the areas of collaboration in the implementation of their individual mission to the Moon.
Russia is currently planning to launch an orbital spacecraft, Luna-Resurs-1 (Luna-26), to the Moon in 2022. China expects to land in the region of the Moon’s south pole by 2023.
A joint data centre on lunar projects and outer space will also be created under the new agreement.
The centre is expected to engage scientific and industrial organisations as well as Russian and Chinese companies.
In June 2016, the Governments of Russia and China entered a deal to jointly establish measures to protect technology used in the exploration and use of outer-space for peaceful purposes.
The deal became effective on 18 December 2016. It also includes the creation and operation of launch vehicles and ground-based space infrastructure.
In November last year, Roscosmos and the CNRC signed a programme of cooperation in the field of space covering the period of 2018-22.
The agreement includes the study of the Moon, deepspace, space science, and related technology, as well as the monitoring of space debris and practical study of relevant issues.
Satellites and their applications, element base, materials, and cooperation of Earth remote sensing data will also be studied.
In addition, China is in the process of building a base on the Moon, with an aim to improve the efficiency of the country’s upcoming lunar exploration missions, reported globaltimes.cn.
Initially, the proposed base will be controlled by artificial intelligence robots. Following a manned lunar-landing, the base will be occasionally managed by human beings.
It appears as though NASA is set to lose its monopoly on lunar exploration activities and is to face cooperation from rivals in Russia and China. It therefore would seem that the US is realizing competition in yet another area, and not just in foreign policy and economic hegemony. Russia and China are both coming into their own, and have their own astronomical ambitions, at a time when the Americans are budgeting for a so called ‘space force’.