Russia is on the brink of signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China for their collaboration on an International Lunar Research Station (IRLS).
SpaceNews reports that in an email they received from Russia's space corporation's, Rocosmos, press office, the team said "Roscosmos has completed domestic proceedings to harmonize the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of People’s Republic of China on cooperation to create the International Lunar Research Station."
The date by when the memorandum is set to be signed has yet to be discussed, explained Rocosmos, "and [the MoU] is currently (being) discussed with the Chinese partners."
According to SpaceNews, what we do know from Rocosmos' press office, however, is that the official announcement of the upcoming plans for an ILRS will coincide with a specific international event due to take place during Russia's Global Space Exploration Conference in June 2021.
Sadly, not much further information regarding what the International Lunar Research Station will look like or what it will be capable of has been shared.
What to expect from a China, Russia lunar research station
What's been gathered so far is that the ILRS comes from a Chinese-driven vision and looks to be a robotic base on the moon's south pole. By the mid-2030s short-term crewed missions will be based there, with long-term lunar stays expected between 2036- 2050. The next steps include China National Space Administration's upcoming Chang-e missions, as well as Rocosmos' Luna 27 one.
Bleddyn Bowen, a lecturer at the University of Leicester in the U.K., cautioned to SpaceNews, however, that this is "just a memorandum of understanding, so we’ll have to wait and see what, if anything, comes from this."
That said, a Russia-China lunar allegiance would not be too far-fetched given Rocosmos and NASA relations have been a little under the strain of late, explains Futurism.
It also looks like other nations could join in on China and Russia's ILSR, but "Until agreements are reached with the Chinese partners and a relevant legal basis for cooperation is created, it will be too early to speak about engaging certain countries/organizations," said Deputy Director General for International Cooperation at Roscosmos, Sergey Savelyev told Russian news agency TASS.