US and Russia sign agreement for moon base

It is part of a Deep Space Gateway to explore the moon and beyond

US and Russia sign agreement for moon base

The rising moon is seen from aboard the International Space Station in a low Earth orbit | Image: NASA

The space agencies of the United States and Russia have signed a joint statement on researching and exploring deep space.

The agreement between NASA and Roscosmos includes plans for exploration in the vicinity of the moon - known as the Deep Space Gateway concept.

This would involve building a crew tended 'spaceport' in lunar orbit that NASA says would serve as "a gateway to deep space and the lunar surface."

"This deep space gateway would have a power bus, a small habitat to extend crew time, docking capability, an airlock, and serviced by logistics modules to enable research.

"The propulsion system on the gateway mainly uses high power electric propulsion for station keeping and the ability to transfer among a family of orbits in the lunar vicinity."

"Building the deep space gateway will allow engineers to develop new skills and test new technologies that have evolved since the assembly of the International Space Station.

"The gateway will be developed, serviced, and utilised in collaboration with commercial and international partners", NASA said back in March.

Image: NASA

The statement was agreed on Wednesday at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.

NASA says: "This joint statement reflects the common vision for human exploration that NASA and Roscosmos share.

"Both agencies, as well as other International Space Station partners, see the gateway as a strategic component of human space exploration architecture that warrants additional study.

"NASA has already engaged industry partners in gateway concept studies. Roscosmos and other space station partner agencies are preparing to do the same."

Robert Lightfoot, NASA's acting administrator at NASA headquarters says: "While the deep space gateway is still in concept formulation, NASA is pleased to see growing international interest in moving into cislunar space as the next step for advancing human space exploration.

"Statements such as this one signed with Roscosmos show the gateway concept as an enabler to the kind of exploration architecture that is affordable and sustainable."

Astronaut Harrison Schmitt collects samples from the lunar surface | Image: NASA

NASA plans to expand the human presence into the solar system, starting in the vicinity of the moon, using its new deep space exploration transportation systems.

It says studies of the gateway concept will provide technical information to inform future decisions about potential collaborations.

They are also working to identify common exploration objectives and possible missions for the 2020s.

NASA has been engaging industries to evaluate habitation concepts for the gateway and for the deep space transport that would be needed for Mars exploration.