China and Russia are teaming up to Launch Astronauts to the moon in the next 10 years. The pair are planning an International Research Station to rival NASA’s Artemis program.
This International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) would include a lineup of robotic lunar missions as reported by the Verge.
Officials from the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, gave a joint presentation during the Global Space Exploration Conference in Russia.
They revealed a three-phase plan to build a network of Moon bases and satellites in Lunar orbit. This project was drafted in March.
Wu Yanhua, CNSA’s deputy director replied to an audience question on when the first Russian or Chinese astronauts “We are still focusing on unmanned lunar exploration in the next ten years.”
China’s CNSA is currently working on sending astronauts to its new low-Earth-orbiting space station, which launched in April. China will be launching its first crew sometime this month for a three-month stay.
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As mentioned earlier, ILRS is competing with NASA’s Artemis program, which plans to put US astronauts on the moon as soon as 2024. NASA is working with Japan, Canada, and the European Space Agency on a Lunar Gateway.
Russia is currently NASA’s biggest partner on the International Space Station, was in talks with the US to participate in the Gateway program before turning to China’s ILRS plan instead.
China’s ILRS program consists of three phases. The first phase will happen between 2021 and 2025 which will involve at least six robotic missions launching to the Moon. The next phase is from 2026 to 2035 which will focus heavily on construction with “massive” cargo deliveries and the complete establishment of facilities in Lunar orbit and on the Moon’s surface.
The last stage starts in 2036, mostly will be focused on “lunar research and exploration; technology verification; supporting human lunar landing[s] with the completed ILRS. Expanding and maintaining modules if needed,” a presentation slide said. ”
China and Russia have informed international partners, including NASA that its ILRS is open to them. These are exciting times for space exploration.
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