The collaboration between the two countries isn’t entirely surprising – Russia and America have been working together in space since their association on the International Space Station first began in 1993.
For NASA, that focus is getting humans on Mars by the 2030s, and the US space agency has made it abundantly clear that it has no intention of returning to the Moon anytime soon – unless the Russian space agency Roskosmos or the European Space Agency takes the lead. But while NASA might not be interested in the Moon specifically, a lot of its plans for getting to Mars involve the area around the Moon.
That’s why US aeronautical giants such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin foresee demand for the establishment of a lunar base in the near future, and have started pitching the idea to NASA. And in order to pull it off, the companies have pulled in Russian space contractors such as RKK Energia and GKNPTs Khrunichev to consult on the project – forming a cooperation that could work together to build the first functioning lunar base.
Like NASA, the goal for these companies isn’t necessarily the Moon itself, but to build a habitat around the Moon that would serve as a stop along the way to Mars.
The Americans will have access to the ridiculously powerful Space Launch System that NASA is developing for its mission to Mars – technology that Russia needs if they want to get any kind of space habitat off the ground.
“According to one proposal, astronauts and cosmonauts together could attempt a nearly 400-day mission on the surface of the Moon in the late 2020s to simulate a Martian expedition,” writes Zak for Popular Mechanics.
With political tension building between Washington and Russia once more, let’s hope a collaborative space venture might be just what it takes to get everyone working together for a common goal.