Russia and China have embarked on an ambitious lunar exploration project, with the Russian government committee overseeing legal affairs endorsing the Russian-Chinese agreement for the development of a scientific lunar station.
This joint venture, under the auspices of Russia's state space corporation Roscosmos and the China National Space Administration, aims to conduct extensive lunar studies and establish a lunar station, with the potential inclusion of other international partners.
Structured in three phases, the project is expected to reach fruition by 2035. The interim period, spanning 2023 to 2030, will focus on testing technologies for lunar payload transportation.
A significant milestone will be China's deployment of a heavy rover to the Moon's South Pole to scout for suitable landing sites for station components.
The initial phase involves Russian and Chinese lunar missions determining the precise location for the station and devising safe lunar landing technologies.
The second phase will see the establishment of a lunar station control center, transportation of large payloads, and creation of orbital stations to provide electricity, communications, and transport services.
The third phase is set to expand the station's functionalities and involve international partners in human lunar landings.
In a bid to facilitate the agreement's implementation and bolster industrial activity, both parties have agreed to exempt transported goods from customs duties.
In a pivotal move, Roscosmos' General Director Yuri Borisov announced in the summer of 2022 that Russia plans to withdraw from the International Space Station project after 2024, with the final decision contingent on the station's technical condition.
However, Roscosmos later informed its partners of Russia's extended participation in the ISS project until 2028. Borisov then indicated that the ISS would cease to exist in its current form post-2030.
Endorsing Roscosmos' proposals, Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the creation of a new Russian orbital station.
Rocket and Space Corporation Energia anticipates the launch of the station's first module in 2027, with construction completion expected by 2032.