South Africa Joins China's Moon Base Initiative

South Africa Joins China's Moon Base Initiative
South Africa Joins China's Lunar Base Initiative - An image showing phase 3 of the ILRS roadmap. Credit: CNSA

South Africa has officially joined the Chinese-led ILRS lunar base construction project.

The International Lunar Research Station Cooperation (ILRS) Memorandum of Understanding between the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) was signed on September 1 by Chen Xiaodong, Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, and Humbulani Mudau, CEO of SANSA.

The deal was announced on the CNSA website on September 7. The agreement comes after the signing of bilateral agreements on official space cooperation during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to South Africa, which will also host the 2023 BRICS Summit, on 22 August.

Under the agreement, CNSA and SANSA will work closely together in a number of areas, including training and the demonstration, implementation, operation and implementation of the ILRS.

The ILRS project aims to build a permanent lunar outpost by the 2030s. The program is a parallel project led by China and is seen as a potential rival to the Artemis Program run by NASA.

To begin with, China plans to launch a series of robotic missions in the 2020s. These include the Chang'e-2026 mission to the Moon's south pole in 7, and the Chang'e-2028 mission in 3, which will test 8D printing and onsite sourcing.

Five key infrastructure missions will be launched in the 2030s using super-heavy-load rockets to build the base. The base, which will initially house robots, will eventually also house astronauts. This year, China's manned spaceflight agency announced that it hopes to send astronauts to the Moon by 2023.

The Russian Luna 25 mission was apparently included in the project. However, after an unusual burn in lunar orbit, this lander crashed into the Moon.

A unified ILRS roadmap was first developed in 2021 by China and Russia in St. However, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Beijing seems to have assumed control of the project. China is establishing ILRSCO as an organization to lead the global moon base initiative.

China, one of the first members of ILRSCO, says it hopes to complete negotiations on agreements and memoranda of understanding with space agencies and organizations by October this year.

A joint ILRS statement was signed on July 17 by Venezuelan Vice President Gabriela Jimenez and CNSA Administrator Zhang Kejian. Headquartered in Hawaii, the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) and CNSA issued joint statements on ILRS this year. Pakistan has also expressed its desire to join the ILRS.

More than ten countries and organizations are negotiating agreements, according to the CNSA's Deep Space Exploration Lab (DSEL).

ILRSCO's headquarters will be in Hefei, the Deep Space Science City of Anhui province. It will have facilities for data processing, sample storage and research, operations control, design simulation and international training.

As a result of the Artemis initiative led by the USA, 28 countries have signed Artemis Agreements to date, leading among these are Argentina, India and Ecuador. The political basis of the initiative is provided by the Treaties.

Source: spacenews

📩 08/09/2023 13:00