In March last year, the NATO military alliance declared space as an ‘operational domain’. The declaration marked the point from where the space race could brew fast between the West on one side and China-Russia on the other. From there onwards, in fact, much before that, China and Russia are trying to forge a space alliance against the West. Just a couple of days back, they have revealed a roadmap for the joint base on the moon.
The moon base, officially known as the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), will consist of a space station in lunar orbit, a base on the moon surface, mobile rovers and intelligent robots.
The various phases declared include a survey in 2021, choosing the site for moon base by 2025, construction between 2026 to 2035 and launch in 2036. The base will study lunar topography, chemistry, geology, the internal structure of the moon and Earth observations from the moon’s surface. In the future, it may also support human exploration.
At the same time, Russia’s space chief, General Dmitry Rogozin, has warned to withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) program involving several nations if US sanctions on Russian space entities aren’t lifted shortly. ISS is a joint multinational project involving five countries, namely the United States, Russia, Japan, European Union and Canada.
Russia has further warned that it has already begun the work on a space station of its own. It is planned to be completed by 2025. Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russian space agency, Roscosmos, posted a video online that warned about it.
Besides, China has begun planning on building a defence system against near-Earth asteroids. Recently, China has made space exploration its top priority. It aims to have a functioning programme operating thousands of space flights a year and carrying thousands of tonnes of cargo and passengers by 2045.
By announcing such hi-tech and ambitious projects, China and Russia jointly challenge the United States’ space supremacy once enjoyed.