March 5, 2024

Venezuela signs China’s moon base initiative

HELSINKI – Venezuela has formally joined the Chinese-led International Lunar Research Station project.

Venezuela is one of the first countries to join the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS). This initiative is seen as a parallel project to the Chinese-led NASA-led Artemis Program.

Zhang Kejian, administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), and Gabriela Jimenez, Vice President of Venezuela and Minister of Science and Technology, signed a joint statement on the ILRS July 17 via video.

The joint declaration, titled “Memorandum of Cooperation between the China National Space Administration and the Bolivarian Space Agency of Venezuela on the International Lunar Research Station,” marks Venezuela’s formal entry into the ILRS, CNSA program. mentioned.

The two parties will cooperate extensively and deeply on the demonstration, engineering implementation, operation and implementation of the ILRS, including joint demonstration of scientific goals, joint design, and more, according to CNSA.

China and Venezuela have established space cooperation, including the launch of the CASC-built VeneSat-1 communications satellite in 2008, as well as later remote sensing satellites in low Earth orbit.

“Due to the signing of the joint statement, the cooperation between the two sides has moved from near-Earth space to the moon and deep space,” according to CNSA.

The ILRS project aims to build a permanent lunar base in the 2030s with a series of phased missions before the end of this decade. China plans a series of robotic missions throughout the 2020s as precursors, including the 2026 Chang’e-7 lunar south pole mission and the 2028 Chang’e-8 in-situ resource utilization and 3D printing technology test mission.

China also revealed plans to put a pair of astronauts on the moon by 2030.

Venezuela will make available its satellite control ground station infrastructure for lunar missions, according to ABAE. It will also engage in collaborative design, technical and operational cooperation, and data management and exchange.

“This is a unique opportunity for mission planning, guidance and definition, as well as technology transfer and joint progress in lunar exploration,” said ABAE. statement.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro welcomed the development. “Venezuela goes to the moon, who would have thought? We are the first to participate in the project to go to the Moon with the People’s Republic of China,” according to machine translation.

Venezuela and China earlier expressed their intention to partner on the ILRS in late March. Marglad Bencomo, executive director of ABAE, visited the new national Space Exploration Laboratory (DSEL) in China and discussed cooperation.

The South American nation is the first to formally sign up for the China-led ILRS initiative. China and Russia previously presented a joint ILRS roadmap in 2021 in St Petersburg. However, Beijing is leading the project and is establishing an organization, called ILRSCO, to coordinate the international lunar base initiative.

The organizations headquarters will be located in the Deep Space Science City, in Hefei in Anhui province, with centers focusing on design simulation, operational control, data processing, sample storage and research, and international training centers.

CNSA has this year signed joint statements on the ILRS with the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), the Swiss firm nanoSPACE AGand the Hawaii-based International Lunar Observatory Society (KNOW). Pakistan is also expressed his intention to join the ILRS. Last month DSEL said it was negotiating agreements with more than 10 other countries and organisations.

The US-led Artemis project has so far attracted 27 countries – most recently India – to sign up to the Artemis Accords, which form the political cornerstone of the initiative.

Victoria Samson, director of the Washington Office at the Global Security Foundation, told Space News in April that Venezuela intends to join the ILRS reflects a trend in international space partnerships.

“It lends credence to my concern that we’re seeing an ambiguity in lunar governance and approaches to lunar missions, where you’re Team Artemis or Team ILRS,” Sansom said.

China aims to conclude the signing of agreements and memorandum of understanding with space agencies and organizations for the founders of ILRSCO by October this year.

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