Russia and China have agreed to build a common lunar station

Russia and China signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday to set up an international lunar research station, as both countries try to catch up with the United States in space travel.

Russia, which sent the first man into space during the Soviet Union, has lagged behind Washington and Beijing in its exploration of the moon and Mars.

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said in a statement that a memorandum was signed by its head, Dmitry Rogozin, and Zhang Kejian of China’s National Space Administration (CNSA).

It said that the lunar station will be designed as a “complex of experimental research facilities created on the surface and / or in the Moon’s orbit”.

It would be available for use by other interested countries and international partners, the statement said without details of the end date.

Despite its former Soviet glory, Russia’s space sector has suffered greatly in recent years from a lack of funding and corruption.

Moscow and Washington are collaborating in the space sector – one of the few areas of cooperation left between competitors during the Cold War.

But Russia lost its manned flight to the International Space Station (ISS) last year after the first successful mission from the US company Space X.

Elon Musk’s Space X is planning a trip to the moon that will be open to several public.

At the same time, China has expressed its space ambitions and last year launched its Tianwen-1 probe, which is currently orbiting Mars.

In December, China successfully took back samples of the moon to Earth, in a first mission of this type in over 40 years.

Earlier on Tuesday, China and France also reaffirmed their commitment to work together in space exploration.

( Jowharwith AFP, REUTERS)