NASA and Russia are teaming up to build an international human outpost in the vicinity of the Moon.
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos announced the ambitious project today in a speech at International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.
“We have agreed to join the project to build a new international Deep Space Gateway station in the moon’s orbit,” head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos Igor Komarov said, as cited by Russia Today.
Following in the footsteps of the International Space Station, the moon ship would be open to astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world. Space bosses hope the Deep Space Gateway will allow mankind to stage space flights to Mars and elsewhere in the Solar System.
According to Popular Mechanics, NASA and its partner agencies plan to begin the construction of the modular habitat known as the Deep-Space Gateway in orbit around the Moon in the early 2020s. It will become the main destination for astronauts for at least a decade, extending human presence beyond the Earth’s orbit for the first time since the end of the Apollo program in 1972. Launched on NASA’s giant SLS rocket and serviced by the crews of the Orion spacecraft, the outpost would pave the way to a mission to Mars in the 2030s.
The announcement of the joint project comes at a time of crumbling relations between Moscow and Washington. The Ukrainian crisis, as well as the two countries’ approaches to handling issues surrounding Syria and North Korea, remain key stumbling blocks.
Space exploration, however, including joint missions on the International Space Station (ISS), appears to be one area where Moscow and Washington have mutual understanding.