Russia has signed a memorandum of understanding with China to construct a joint lunar space station, the national space agency, Roscosmos, announced on Tuesday.
The station is envisioned as a "complex of experimental research facilities created on the surface and/or in the orbit of the moon," according to a statement from Roscosmos.
The countries have agreed to cooperate closely on designing, implementing and presenting the project, according to the statement.
China's ambassador to Russia confirmed the agreement, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.
'A worthy partner'
In July 2020, Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin had reportedly said his agency was in talks with China about potentially developing a joint lunar base.
The project would involve developing a space monitoring system and should also help with deep space exploration, Rogozin said. He hinted at cooperation on asteroid and comet security.
"The Chinese have grown a lot in recent years, we respect their results, and in principle they are a worthy partner for us," Rogozin was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Beijing and the Kremlin have sought to strengthen their ties since 2014 after Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea strained its relations with the West.
Space rivals, space allies
The announcement came hours after France's space studies organization, CNES, reported that Paris and Beijing were committed to cooperating in the space exploration field, according to Reuters.
Russia also cooperates with the US when it comes to space exploration. NASA is currently planning to build a lunar station in cooperation with Japan, Canada and Europe.
In February, an EU official told Reuters that the bloc would set up an alliance in the space industry to prevent being outweighed by the US and Chinese technologies.
Russia's move comes as it loses its monopoly over trips to the International Space Station following the US SpaceX mission launch.
fb/dj (AFP, DPA, Interfax, Reuters)