As relations between Russia and the west detoriorate, the far east super power has signed a major deal with China to begin deep space exploration.
The two countries have been in talks to create a lunar research station since at least 2015, with space exploration a key part of the recently signed bilateral 2018-2022 cooperation program.
Although space remains one of the rare areas of Russian-U.S. cooperation, Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has reportedly drafted a contingency plan in case of deteriorating relationships that would shift space cooperation to China.
The agreement was signed following Putin’s talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Roscosmos said in a statement.
The new head of Roscosmos, former deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, is expected to meet with his counterpart from China’s national space agency, CNSA, on Friday.
The memorandum follows up on a March 3 Roscosmos-CNSA agreement to cooperate on lunar and deep space exploration by establishing a joint data center.