China, Russia shoot for the moon with new space cooperation agreement

World Today

In October, Beijing plans to sign a milestone agreement with Moscow, advancing joint space exploration from 2018 to 2022. The deal could have a major impact on missions to the moon.

CGTNs Aljosa Milenkovic has the details from Moscow.

Russia’s space industry has made great achievements over the course of its history, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it’s space program has suffered from a chronic shortage of funds.

In order to keep it afloat in the face of ever rising costs, the government is looking for international partners and collaboration. In addition to already working with the U.S. and Europe, a promising deal is about to be signed with China.

According to Glavcosmos, a launch provider and part of state space agency Roscosmos, the deal covers five areas of collaboration with China:

  • Lunar and deep space exploration
  • Development of special materials
  • Satellite systems
  • Earth remote sensing
  • Space debris research

The idea and possibility of once again having humans return to the moon has floated around for quite some time. With this deal, however, that prospect is turning into a reality.

China and Russia have signed space cooperation agreements in the past, but it is the first to cover a partnership spanning 5 years. This length of time allows for more ambitious plans, though some say there is room for improvement still.

 “We need to unite our dual use space systems like GLONASS and BEIDOU, systems of space communications, of Earth remote sensing, so those systems would be more effective and have less burden on our budgets,” according to Andrey Ionin of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics.

Lowering budget burdens is an important driving force behind international space collaboration agreements. The deals can spread the costs of large projects like the International Space Station, but also smaller items such as space suits, which can costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If humankind is to conquer space, supporters say, the only way to do so is by working together.

Keith Cowing on China’s new age of space exploration

For more on China and Russia’s joint space exploration plans, CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke to Keith Cowing. He’s the editor of