Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday officially signed the law on his country’s cooperation with China on the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) project, as Beijing actively advocates global participation in joint exploration of the vast universe, recently including Egypt and Bahrain in China’s upcoming Chang’e mission.

The relevant document was published on an official Russian legal information portal on Wednesday, Sputnik reported. In early March, the Russian government submitted to the lower house of parliament a bill to ratify the agreement with China.

About 12 more countries and international organizations have joined the ambitious initiative, Sergey Savelyev, deputy director general for international cooperation at Russia’s state space agency Roscosmos, said in May, according to media reports.

This will bring the total number of ILRS partners to more than 30 countries and organizations. The ILRS has already attracted more than 20 signatories from various countries and organizations. Chinese researchers have said that basalt will be considered as a material for building the lunar base, the same material used to erect the Chinese national flag proudly raised on the far side of the moon on June 4.

Building the base on the moon will significantly save costs compared to obtaining materials from Earth, as the lunar surface is rich in basalt, which can be cut into sheets or tubes for construction purposes, Xinhua News Agency reported.

After China successfully landed its Chang’e-6 probe on the far side of the moon and brought precious lunar soil back to Earth, the national space administration announced on Tuesday that a payload jointly developed by Egypt and Bahrain will be carried on China’s next lunar mission — Chang’e-7, scheduled to launch around 2026 to survey the lunar south polar environment, China Central Television reported on Tuesday.

The payload is a hyperspectral imaging instrument for analyzing lunar surface material, the report said.

The international payloads scheduled to be brought by the Chang’e-7 mission include contributions from six countries and organizations, namely Egypt, Bahrain, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Thailand and the US-based International Lunar Observatory Association.

With China’s continued success in deep space exploration, the prospects for its international cooperation will continue to expand, Wang Ya’nan, editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine in Beijing, told the Global Times.

“On the one hand, China has demonstrated exceptionally high capability and reliability through a series of successful space missions. This serves as a prerequisite for a good partnership, where richer samples and more ideal scientific results can be achieved,” Wang noted.

In addition, China has always maintained an open and inclusive attitude toward international cooperation, which is rare in today’s complex global landscape, experts said. While the US is busy with the rhetoric of “China threat” in a supposed space race, China has been steadily moving forward and producing concrete results, they noted.

Commenting on the Sino-Russian collaboration in building the ILRS, Wang noted that it will have a “whole is greater than the sum of the parts” effect. Russia’s advantage lies in its expertise in astrophysics and chemistry, derived from its experience with lunar missions during the Soviet era. China can fill Russia’s gaps in resources and talents by leveraging its abundant economic and engineering advantages.

“China’s rapid growth in aerospace technology has led to the development of reliable engineering capabilities, including a space station, various types of spacecraft and carrier rockets. With well-planned investment and a growing pool of young talent, China and Russia can complement each other in this area,” Wang said.

Via Global Times.


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