China and Russia Affirm Lunar Station Plans

China and Russia are still planning on signing an agreement to build a lunar research station by 2035, CNSA officials confirmed Friday. The station, called the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), was originally announced in June and represents the two nations’ response to NASA’s Gateway project.

ILRS 101: The proposed station would consist of an orbiting outpost and a base on the lunar surface, as well as several lunar rovers. At this point, other countries are still able to join the project.

  • Gateway, in contrast, will only orbit the moon. NASA is also planning to build an Artemis Base Camp on the lunar surface.

Development timeline: China and Russia now need to build out the systems needed to support a long-term presence on the Moon, including energy, communication, and life support, per Wu Yanha, a deputy director at CNSA. 

Over the next five years, China has three lunar missions planned: Chang’e-6, 7, and 8. Chang’e-6 and 7 will gather lunar samples and data, and Chang’e-8 will be the first mission to begin building the lunar base.