Russia and U.S. Team-up for Lunar Space Station
Despite geopolitical tensions on Earth in areas like Ukraine, Syria, global trade, cybersecurity, and well, everywhere, Russia and the U.S. announced last week they would team-up for a new lunar space station project.
The Deep Space Gateway is a multi-stage project with the goal of creating a “gateway” for deep space exploration (hence the name). The first stage of the project involves constructing the orbital and docking portion of the station. The technologies developed during this stage could later be used on the moon’s surface or potentially even Mars.
It’s hard not to wonder how a joint effort between Russia and the U.S. could even be possible. Over the past few years, U.S. politicians increased their anti-Russia rhetoric in more ways than one. This includes space, where some members of Congress and the Department of Defense believe there will be a “space war” between world powers such as Russia, the United States, and possibly China. A coordinated effort for the Deep Space Gateway could deteriorate as the project advances and political or economic agendas take control.
Understandably, Russia remains reluctant.
Roscosmos head Igor Komarov already emphasized that maintaining communication is important to ensure cooperation does not deteriorate beyond repair. “It’s very easy to make hasty decisions which would interrupt our cooperation. In many respects, we and our partners understand that it will put us back, and so from the space agencies, there’s an understanding that this cooperation needs to be maintained and continued,” he said in July.
Komarov also stressed that the team must define precise standards to avoid potential conflict on the project. Moscow and Washington already conduct joint missions on the International Space Station. It’s no coincidence the news rarely covers this.
So far, The Deep Space Gateway includes Roscosmos, NASA, and the European Space Agency. Other countries may also join the project as well. Brazil, China, South Africa, and India have already expressed interests and discussed their potential contributions.
Roscosmos expects the first modules on The Deep Space Gateway to be ready between 2024 and 2026. A handful of nations already have their own rocket programs. It’s possible the infrastructure on the joint lunar space station could utilize Moscow’s Proton-M and Angara rockets.
Russia, China, Europe, and the United States all have their own space exploration programs with each group making astounding progress each day. Imagine what they could accomplish by teaming up?