China said Friday it will sign a deal with Russia by the end of the year that will see the two countries develop a joint facility on the moon. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 28 (UPI) -- China said Friday that it expects to sign a space agreement with Russia by the end of this year that will include construction of a joint lunar research facility.
"We are intensively engaged in negotiations and have basically reached a consensus. The agreement is quite possible to be signed as soon as possible this year," China National Space Administration Vice Administrator Wu Yanhua told a Friday news conference, the Eurasian Times said.
The countries aim to begin construction of the International Lunar Research Station by 2026 and have basic infrastructure finished by 2035. It will be capable of conducting multidisciplinary research activities. The construction area will be chosen before 2025.
This comes on the same day the China National Space Administration released a white paper outlining the immediate future of the country's space program, as well as its recent accomplishments.
"The space industry is a critical element of the overall national strategy, and China upholds the principle of exploration and utilization of outer space for peaceful purposes," the paper states.
A future base also could include a reserve spacecraft capable of taking off from the moon's surface, Russia's Sputnik News Agency reported Tuesday.
"The possibility of some kind of reserve lunar ascent/descent vehicle is one new and important idea. And things will be more calm on the moon [for cosmonauts] if there is a reserve ship which can take off," retired cosmonaut Vladimir Solovyev told the agency.
It also reported member states of the European Space Agency have been invited to participate in the facility's development. The agency said it has not yet reached a decision.
In September, China and Russia jointly hosted a closed-door workshop on the lunar station. Experts from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Malaysia, Thailand also were invited.