Space cooperation between NASA and Roscomos is strengthened by the signing of a joint declaration between the United States and Russia. The focus is on the development of a lunar orbital station, the possibility of which is becoming clearer.
Would the Americans and Russians finally leave the Cold War aside to work together with their eyes turned towards space… and the Moon in particular? The sign is timid: the two countries have just signed a joint declaration in Adelaide, Australia, where the 68th International Astronautical Congress is being held.
This agreement will enable the two space agencies Nasa and Roscosmos to work on joint projects, in particular on deep space exploration to the Moon, from the International Space Station as a strategic launch pad. However, it would be abusive at this stage to announce the joint construction of a future Moon base.
The U. S. Space Agency is considering exploring the Moon and its surrounding space from an advanced base, a vast project called the Deep Space Gateway. In this context, NASA will use the International Space Station (ISS) as a base for further exploration of space, prior to the creation of this inhabited international platform to orbit around the Moon, which will send astronauts into lunar orbit using new rockets developed by the American Space Agency. This statement comes in the context of a space exploration that is running out of steam, against a backdrop of limited funding.
This is all the more so since the ISS’s lifespan, which has already been extended by 4 years, is only up to 2024. Its future replacement could thus be seen as a front-port to the Moon.
Space, a field of international cooperation
Space is one of the few areas of bilateral cooperation not affected by the intense tensions between the United States and Russia. The two countries cooperate in particular within the framework of the ISS, of which Russia provides the main module and has the only ship capable of sending spacewalkers since the American space shuttles stopped. In particular, the Russian Angara and Proton-M rockets could be used in parallel with the American heavy launcher SLS, whose first flight is planned for 2018.