HomeScience & TechVladimir Putin Greenlights Ambitious Lunar Research Station Project with China

Vladimir Putin Greenlights Ambitious Lunar Research Station Project with China

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially approved a plan to collaborate with China on the construction of the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), a bold space project aimed at establishing a joint presence on the Moon. The details of this initiative were published on a Russian legal information portal on Wednesday, as reported by Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency.

The ILRS, which will feature sections on the lunar surface, lunar orbit, and on Earth, is set to be built in two phases. Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program, outlined that the first phase will involve the establishment of a basic station at the lunar south pole by 2035. The second phase, slated for completion by 2045, will focus on expanding the station, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.

Sergey Savelyev, deputy general director for International Cooperation at Roscosmos, Russia’s state space agency, noted that 12 additional countries and international organizations have signed onto this ambitious initiative, as reported by China’s state-run Global Times.

The Russian parliament’s lower house received a bill to ratify the agreement with China in March, following the ascender of China’s Chang’e-6 probe launching from the lunar surface with samples from the Moon’s far side. This mission marked the first successful collection of soil from this rarely explored area and is currently returning to Earth.

Launched on May 3, the Chang’e-6 mission, consisting of an orbiter, lander, ascender, and returner, mirrors its predecessor, Chang’e-5. During a visit to China last month, President Putin highlighted the “very interesting” joint lunar exploration plans with China.

The partnership between Russia and China on the ILRS began with a memorandum of understanding signed in March 2021 by Roscosmos and the China National Space Administration. Putin emphasized the significance of these “capital-intensive projects” as promising ventures.

The first lunar mission under this collaboration is scheduled for 2026, with the initial phase expected to be completed by 2028. Additionally, Roscosmos CEO Yury Borisov announced plans for Russia and China to deliver and install a nuclear power unit on the lunar surface between 2033 and 2035.

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