It seems like just yesterday that we were living in a constant nuclear threat, spending all of our time thinking about Russia and trying to put a someone on the Moon. Nothing has really changed, but now it seems that we’ll be working with Russia on the whole Moon thing. That’s nice.
NASA and Roscosmos signed a joint statement today at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia that they’d work together researching a deep space gateway. Such a space station would orbit the Moon and allow for an environment to prepare for crewed missions deeper into space than those attempted before.
An earlier NASA release explained that the space agency is hoping to gain experience from missions far from Earth in order to prepare for more distant destinations like Mars. The planned station would be just a few days’ trip from Earth, but would offer an environment to test hardware and allow engineers to build a new kind of space station. Eventually, it could serve as a port that connects the Earth and Moon to more distant destinations.
Roscosmos will assist in exploring such a deep space gateway concept, and will draft on commercial partners as NASA has already done, according to a press release issued by NASA today. The Guardian reports that “The Russians and Americans would cooperate to build the systems needed to organize scientific missions in lunar orbit and to the surface of the moon.” They also note that sending humans back to the Moon has taken precedence over exploring asteroids under the Trump administration. I have a lot of jokes about conspiracy theories and the president I would like to make right now.
Anyway, it sounds like we’re going back to the Moon, and our new best friend Russia will be there to help. Yay!