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This is why China and Russia want to build a base on the Moon

todayApril 9, 2021 3

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The Russian space agency Roscosmos and China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) recently agreed to establish lunar outposts on, and in orbit around, the Moon. This announcement comes as Russia prepares to mark the 60th anniversary of Yuri’s Night — the beginning of human spaceflight.

Roscosmos originated in 1991 from the dissolved soviet space program. The Soviet space agency accomplished a number of firsts, including launching the first satellite, as well as the first man, and woman, into space. In 1971, the USSR launched Salyut 1, the first space station, into orbit around Earth. The Soviet Union also played critical roles in the development of the International Space Station as that outpost morphed from Ronald Reagan’s original vision of an all-American space station Freedom.

Credit: CNSA

On February 10, the Tianwen-1 spacecraft arrived at Mars. Designed by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), this was the first mission to arrive at Mars with an orbiter, lander, and rover (although the lander and rover have not yet touched down on the surface of Mars). In December, a robotic mission from China collected samples from the Moon, returning them to Earth for analysis. This was the first time in 40 years this has been accomplished.

“Within the framework of creation of the ILRS, China and Russia will use their experience in space science, R&D and use of space equipment and technology to jointly formulate a road map for the construction of the ILRS, and carry out the close collaboration on planning, demonstration, design, development, implementation and operation of the ILRS, including the promotion of the project to the international space communities,” the CNSA reports.

The space agencies in each country have issued statements welcoming the development and shared their views on what may be the first massive structure to be constructed in lunar orbit.
Each nation is committed to combining their rich experiences in space science, research, and use of space technology to explore Mars, and develop an international moon-based station for scientific research. Both countries will be involved in the planning, conducting the design, development, and operation of the research station.

“China and Russia use joint experience and scientific technologies to create a roadmap for building an international research station on the Moon,” CNSA said in a statement posted on WeChat.

On April 12, the world will celebrate Yuri’s Night — the 60th anniversary of human spaceflight, as well as the 40th anniversary of the first flight of the Space Shuttle.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, The Russian Federation has lagged behind the US and China in the exploration of the Moon and Mars, and the nation is seeking to retake a leading role in the exploration of space.

Why a Lunar Station?

A lunar station could provide many benefits to the world space agencies and the people of those nations. It would serve as a practical step between our current capabilities and technologies need to, one day, colonize Mars. A permanent lunar outpost could serve as a base for a variety of activities such as the observations of the Sun and other astronomical objects, the study of Earth’s resources and environment, and other bodies in the Cosmos.

Building such an outpost would provide a research and proving ground for a variety of important advanced technologies and capabilities, including robotics, utilization of in-situ resources, resource depots, deep space units’ habitats, in-space propulsion, optical communication, space additive manufacturing (3D printing), and more.

During the “successful failure” of Apollo 13, the crew of this troubled spacecraft took stunning images of the lunar surface as they turned their sights back to Earth. Here are some of the video images they took while rounding the Moon in April 1970. Video by NASA.

The nature of the Moon and its resources, such as large quantities of water preserved in eternally-shaded craters, makes it a perfect base for lunar and subsequent Mars missions and other planetary activities.

The establishment of an International Lunar Station would signal an important breakthrough in transportation, high-value extraterrestrial resources, power and communications, crew habitats, and facilities that would significantly lower technical and financial risks for missions beyond the Moon.

And it would give the space programs of the world a much-needed clear, timely, and logical next step in the human exploration of space.

Still, More than 20 years Late for Space: 1999

The International Space Station has proven that people from all nations can survive — and work — together in space
Credit: NASA
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