Russia and China envision joint space exploration
Russia and China are discussing broad cooperation in the field of space exploration. Both countries have said they are willing to collaborate in a wide range of areas, including joint missions to the Moon and Mars.
According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, both sides have the potential to implement impressive space projects as they trust each other at the political level as well as at the level of specialists. Rogozin made his remarks on the possible Russia-China cooperation last week, during a meeting with the heads of Russian regions and Chinese provinces as well as the managers of companies from both countries.
“We’re developing an understanding for the rocket and space industry for possible interaction in such profound and technologically complex projects as the future exploration of the Moon, Mars and piloted cosmonautics,” Rogozin said.
He noted that during his talks with the Vice Premier of China’s State Council, Wang Yang, cooperation on the issue of interaction between both space agencies was debated. The officials discussed large projects like the delivery of rocket engines and also collaboration in navigation systems.
Although the cooperation is still in its infancy, last week’s talks mark another step toward evolving a Sino-Russian partnership in the space industry. Furthermore, last year, Rogozin said Moscow is ready to work hand-in-hand with Beijing on crewed space projects, joint deep space exploration and joint exploration of the Solar System.
In May 2016, both sides have begun joint work with the aim to devise a set of unified standards to be used in manufacturing space technologies, including those necessary for future crewed lunar missions. The countries also aim to develop standards for docking units and electrical connectors.
One month ago, Russia’s Ambassador to China, Andrey Denisov, disclosed Russia and China are actively discussing possible cooperation in rocket engine manufacturing, creating a heavy rocket, space stations, and making long-distance space flights.
“Cooperation is perceptible in the field of designing a heavy rocket and establishing interaction in the sphere of space stations and long-distance flights,” Denisov said.
He added this collaboration would be of a purely peaceful, civilian nature and would benefit the entire humankind rather than only the participating states.
Another factor that could step up this cooperation is the fact that China has voiced interest in Russian rocket engines. On July 6, Rogozin revealed Beijing may buy rocket engines from Russia for it space program.
“We are talking about urgently preparing the most complex intergovernmental agreements that will outline the issue of maintaining Russia’s intellectual property on most high-technology production which will be sold in China. These are, first of all, rocket engines. China displays great interest in this issue,” Rogozin said.
Russia plans to send cosmonauts to the Moon on a regular basis as soon as 2025. The country laid out its ambitious plan to carry out one or two launches yearly of its crewed spacecraft called “Federation”—currently in development—in order to transport people to lunar orbit.
Meanwhile, China also sets its sights on crewed missions to the moon as the country aims to land humans on the lunar surface and establish a base there. The emerging Sino-Russian cooperation could significantly hasten the progress on these projects.
Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.