China and Russia Agree to Build Joint Moon Base

Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping / Getty Images
March 9, 2021

China and Russia signed a long-term agreement on Tuesday to construct a joint moon base.

During a virtual meeting, leading Chinese and Russian space authorities agreed to build the lunar research station, which the two countries claim will be open to other nations, according to SpaceNews. Leaders from both countries said the base will strengthen scientific and diplomatic ties between Beijing and Moscow.

"China and Russia will use their accumulated experience in space science, research and development, and use of space equipment and space technology to jointly develop a road map for the construction of an international lunar scientific research station," the China National Space Administration said in a statement.

The agreement marks only the latest step in a growing partnership between the two countries, which hope to challenge American leadership in space. China and Russia have cooperated to build advanced weaponry that can target satellites, and have developed technology for a new generation in human spaceflight.

In response to this buildup, the Trump administration created the Space Force and reinstituted the National Space Council to coordinate actions in space between government agencies and private companies. Space advocates have said the administration's efforts ushered in a second golden age for space.

President Joe Biden's approach to space, however, remains unclear. The White House is reportedly considering former senator Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) to take up the top position at NASA, a choice derided by space experts, who criticize Nelson's antiquated approach to key technologies and private space flight. Nelson has also urged for closer U.S.-China relations in space exploration.

The Biden administration has already faced criticism for appearing to downplay the United States' threats from space. Last month, Press Secretary Jen Psaki openly mocked the Space Force during a press conference. Congressional Democrats continue to eye budget cuts for the Department of Defense, which may hinder the development of America's newest military branch.