NASA is leading a project which will see the space agency build an orbiting laboratory around the Moon, much in the same way the International Space Station (ISS) functions around Earth. The project has been dubbed the Deep Space Gateway, and will likely act as a replacement for the ISS which is set to be retired in 2024.
While the ISS is, as the name suggests, and international collaboration, with the likes of the US, Russia, Japan, Canada and Europe having had astronauts on it, the Gateway will be more NASA-centric.
As a result, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has distanced itself from the project, saying a more global approach is needed.
Russia is unlikely to want to be led by the US in its space program, so it will attempt to get its own missions up and running or participate with other global partners.
Dmitry Rogozin, director general of Roscosmos, told the International Astronautical Congress on October 12: “In our view, the lunar Gateway in its current form is too US-centric, so to speak.
“Russia is likely to refrain from participating in it on a large scale.”
Mr Rogozin urged international space partners to work together as part of a more holistic approach to conquering space.
He elaborated: “The most important thing here would be to base this program on the principles of international cooperation which were used in order to fly the ISS program.
“If we could get back to considering making these principles as the foundation of the program, then Roscosmos could also consider its participation.”
However, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine dismissed Mr Rogozin’s claims, and believes the Gateway should be seen as an international partnership.
The NASA administrator said: “The Gateway uses the intergovernmental agreement established for the International Space Station.
“All of the protocols that exist on the International Space Station would also exist for the Gateway, so I don’t think that that’s a challenge.”
The Deep Space Gateway will allow astronauts to study the moon in close detail and will also be used a pit-stop for astronauts travelling farther out into the solar system, particularly Mars.
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Construction is set to begin on the orbiting laboratory in 2022, with the first module not set for completion until 2024.
NASA said: “NASA is leading the next steps into deep space near the Moon, where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems needed for challenging missions to deep space destinations including Mars.
The area of space near the moon offers a true deep space environment to gain experience for human missions that push farther into the solar system, access the lunar surface for robotic missions but with the ability to return to Earth if needed in days rather than weeks or months.”
“The gateway and transport could potentially support mission after mission as a hub of activity in deep space near the moon, representing multiple countries and agencies with partners from both government and private industry.”
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