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Moon station 'Deep Space Gateway' to be built by Russia and US

Work on a joint US-Russia space station orbiting the Moon is to begin in the mid 2020s. The base is intended to serve as a launching point for manned missions to Mars.

Deep Space Gateway (NASA)

The station would be serviced by craft such as the Orion space vessel

The US and Russia on Wednesday announced plans to cooperatively build the first lunar space station.

Roscosmos and NASA — Russia and America's space agencies — said they had signed a cooperation agreement at an astronautical congress in Adelaide.

The agreement brings Russia onboard to the Deep Space Gateway project announced by NASA earlier this year, which aims to send humans to Mars via a lunar station.

Read more: Will we evolve to adapt to life in space?

The proposed station would serve as a base for lunar exploration for humans and robots, and as a stopover for spacecraft.

"While the Deep Space Gateway is still in concept formulation, NASA is pleased to see growing international interest in moving into cislunar space (between Earth and the Moon) as the next step for advancing human space exploration," said Robert Lightfoot, acting administrator at NASA headquarters in Washington.

The two nations would work together to develop the systems and standards needed to organize scientific missions in lunar orbit and to the surface of the Moon, Roscosmos said.

The partners intend "to develop international technical standards which will be used later, in particular to create a space station in lunar orbit," Roscosmos said.

Read more: Fifty years after Lunar Orbiter 4 mapped almost all the moon it's time we went back

Participants agreed it was important to develop unified standards to avoid future problems in space, Igor Komarov, Roscosmos's general director, said in televised remarks.

"Roscosmos and NASA have already agreed on standards for a docking unit of the future station," the Russian space agency said.

"Taking into account the country's extensive experience in developing docking units, the station's future elements — as well as standards for life-support systems — will be created using Russian designs."

The two agencies plan to begin main works in the mid 2020s and will model the station on the ISS.

aw/rc (AFP, dpa)

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