The Russian Soyuz booster rocket FG with Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft lifts off from the launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, 25 September 2019, carrying the expedition 61/62 crew members, UAE astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, to the International Space Station (ISS). Mansouri will be the first Emirati in space. EPA-EFE/Maxim Shipenkov

Joint participation in projects related to exploration of the Moon could be a serious factor for expanding cooperation between Russia and the United States, Deputy Director General for International Cooperation at Roscosmos Sergey Saveliev said on Saturday.

“Ambitious projects related to exploration of the Moon could become a serious factor in cooperation of the two countries in difficult times,” Saveliev said, according to Roscosmos statement.

Acting Associate Administrator for NASA’s Office of International and Interagency Relations Michael Gold said earlier that media reports that the United States was not willing to include Russia into its draft agreement on Moon exploration were incorrect.

“I think it’s unfortunate that there were a lot of media leaks that did not properly describe what the Artemis Accords were, so I’m not surprised for some of those reactions. Frankly, if I was in their place, I might have reacted similarly, given the information that was presented,” he said, when asked to comment on a Reuters report that the United States was preparing an international agreement on moon mining without Russia’s participation.

He also gave a positive answer to a TASS question on whether the United States viewed Russia as its partner in Moon exploration and whether Moscow could count on signing an agreement with Washington within the framework of Artemis Accords if it wants so.

In his words, Russia’s participation in the Gateway project to create a lunar orbiter jointly with the US can become a first step in signing a Moscow-Washington agreement within the framework of the Artemis Accords.

Gateway project

The Lunar Gateway, previously known as Deep Space Gateway and Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, proposed by the US, is supposed to become a transit point for human missions to Moon and far space. Earlier, the United States invited its international partners in the International Space Station (ISS) project, including Russia, to participate.

Among other things, NASA has sent a memorandum to Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos, which specifies details of the project and lists cooperation opportunities under this program.

Source: TASS, May 16, 2020