The US and Russia might not see eye to eye, but they have just agreed to jointly build a lunar base for greater space exploration.
While the space race pitted the US and Russia against each other, the moon has united the two, as NASA and Roscosmos put aside political differences to agree to build a new space station.
According to AFP (via Phys.org), the multi-stage project is to be called Deep Space Gateway and will see a crewed spaceport in lunar orbit that would act as a hub for all deep-space and lunar-landing missions.
The two agencies said they signed a cooperation agreement at a recent astronomical conference in Adelaide, Australia, and that they share a common goal in the exploration of outer space.
NASA’s acting administrator and recent Siliconrepublic.com interviewee, Robert M Lightfoot, said of the agreement: “While the Deep Space Gateway is still in concept formulation, NASA is pleased to see growing international interest in moving into cislunar space as the next step for advancing human space exploration.”
With the International Space Station set to reach the end of its life in the middle of the next decade, the hunt is now on for a replacement space station that could continue space-based scientific research.
Lunar station and Moon Village
While NASA will be leading its assembly, Roscosmos said it would cooperate with the agency on building the systems to organise scientific missions in the moon’s orbit and on its surface.
“Taking into account the country’s extensive experience in developing docking units, the station’s future elements – as well as standards for life-support systems – will be created using Russian designs,” it said.
Russia is also expected to do much of the heavy lifting, sending up the infrastructure using its Proton-M and Angara rockets.
Roscosmos’ general director, Igor Komarov, added: “We understand that we are key players and we have to work on these missions together. The station will be a serious platform for future research.”
This news follows the announcement that the European Space Agency would be partnering with the Chinese space agency to build a base on the moon.
This ‘Moon Village’ could have a population of 1,000 by the year 2050 and will be used as a base for mining the moon’s potentially vast resources, such as helium-3 and even water.