The path not taken.
- Oct 9, 2009
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China has developed a vision for an international lunar research station and is seeking international involvement in the project.
Russia is preparing to sign a memorandum of understanding with China to cooperate on a vision for an international lunar research station (ILRS).
Russia opts for lunar project with China over continued cooperation with ISS partners beyond LEO
HELSINKI — Russia is preparing to sign a memorandum of understanding with China to cooperate on a vision for an international lunar research station.
The ILRS is understood to be a Chinese-developed vision for a robotic base at the lunar south pole. The first steps will be the upcoming Chang’e-,6, -7 and -8 missions and international missions such as Russia’s Luna 27. In the early 2030s an expanded ILRS will involve long-term robotic and potentially short-term crewed missions. A long-term human presence at the lunar south pole is the goal for 2036-2045.
The project, at this early stage, would appear to consist of Chinese, Russian and potentially other nations contributing their own, discrete spacecraft. This would be in contrast to a more complex, integrated program such as the International Space Station.
ILRS objectives include “construction and operation of human[ity]’s first sharing platform in the lunar south pole, supporting long-term, large-scale scientific exploration, technical experiments and development and utilization of lunar resources’, according to a 2020 presentation to the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) by the Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center under the China National Space Administration (CNSA).