How will the alliance of Russia and China start a new era of space racing?


Sixty years ago, the Soviet Union launched the first satellite into space. This country almost four years later, Yuri Gagarin, Sent the first man into Earth orbit. Despite these initiatives, the Soviet Union eventually fell behind NASA in a space race. However, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia remained a space superpower, playing an active role in the construction and operation of the International Space Station by joining the United States over the past two decades.

Russia has now found a new partner for the future of its space program: China, the new space superpower. After years of promise and some limited cooperation, Russia and China have begun ambitious planning for missions that will compete directly with US and allied space programs. This alliance of Eastern powers marks the beginning of a new era in space racing that could be as exciting as the Cold War era.

Russia and China have joined in 2024 for a robotic mission to the asteroid. They are organizing a series of lunar missions to build a permanent research base on Antarctica by 2030. Scheduled for the first launch in October, the Soviet-era Russian spacecraft Luna, revived, aims to find ice to help supply water for future human missions. The two countries recently announced that they will land their first crew of astronauts on the moon by the next decade.

Work on Luna 25 lunar surface in Moscow in March.

The flourishing of new cooperation is a reflection of the geopolitics of today’s world. China and Russia led Xi Jinping And Vladimir Putin, Their current leaders have become increasingly close to each other, and by putting aside decades of mistrust between the two countries, they have formed an informal but strong alliance against what they see as US hegemonic behavior. Due to the already tense relations between Russia and China and the United States, the atmosphere has become a natural arena for the development of warm relations between the two countries.

Russian space officials have previously indicated that they may leave the International Space Station as soon as the current agreement with its partners ends in 2024. Last year’s launch of the Cro Dragon SpaceX capsule has now ended Russia’s exclusive role in transporting American astronauts into orbit.

Russia has several reasons for taking the new approach; But politics is apparently the main factor. last week, Dmitry RagozinThe director of Roscosmos said that if the United States maintains the sanctions that have affected Russia’s space program, it will withdraw from the International Space Station.

Roscommon director Dmitry Ragozin talks to astronauts and astronauts

Dmitry Ragozin, director of the Russian Space Agency, spoke to astronauts and astronauts before their trip to the International Space Station last October.

John Johnson Ferris“US-Russian participation in the space station has been shown as a symbol of the ability of nations to work together even in times of tension,” a professor of national security at the Naval War College told the New York Times. “But this tension has reached a point where it is impossible to predict the consequences.”

Russia, despite its experience in space, has worked hard to preserve historic programs that tackle burnout and corruption and run out of resources in its stagnant economy. In contrast, China, a relatively newcomer to space exploration, has successfully excelled among space forces in missions in which Russia and the former Soviet Union failed, such as the landing of a robotic probe on Mars.

Jurong rover on the surface of Mars

Jurong Chinese probe on the surface of Mars.

This spring, China launched its first orbital space station module, and this week sent three astronauts into space to stay. The completion of the International Space Station (scheduled for 2024 but may be extended) is likely to soon make China the only resident base on Earth orbit.

China, which sent its first astronauts into space in 2003, was never invited to join the International Space Station. A law passed by the US Congress in 2011 barred NASA from cooperating with China’s state space agency or any affiliated company, citing the threat of espionage.

China says the ban has provided a boon and given them the opportunity to develop their own space capabilities; However, it purchased equipment from Russia to build two test space stations in 2011 and 2016. China’s third orbital settlement, Behnam Tiangong, or “Paradise Palace,” is scheduled to be completed next year after 11 launches. The station is designed to orbit the earth for at least a decade after construction is complete.

“Long-term foreign sanctions have driven our independent innovation,” Yang Hong, a Tiangong designer, told Chinese state television last month. We must have our own technology. “We can not always lag behind others.”

Chinese technicians monitor a space flight

Chinese technicians monitor a space flight in 2012.

China is committed to opening its station doors to astronauts and foreign testers; However, by design, this settlement will ultimately be a Chinese-centric endeavor. Russia and China have not yet agreed on any joint cooperation on the new space station.

Hao Chun“We are determined to turn our space station into a common platform for scientific and technological research to benefit all people around the world,” said China Space Agency’s director of human missions in an interview with the state-run China Daily. Russia and China have previously cooperated in space. The first Chinese astronauts, known as the Taikanots, flew in Russian astronaut uniforms. China then made its own clothing based on Russian designs.

China’s first failed attempt to send an orbiter to Mars was launched alongside a Russian mission to one of Mars’ moons. The Russian missile failed due to a fault in the computer circuits in near-Earth orbit and eventually crashed to the ground.

Yang Liwe after returning from China's first human space mission

Yang Liwe after returning from China’s first manned space mission in October 2003.

Cooperation with China has now given Russia the opportunity to pursue an ambitious scientific adventure that it was unable to achieve on its own in the post-Soviet era due to budget cuts and corruption.

One month after announcing a joint venture to build a lunar station project, the two countries announced in April that they had joined forces to launch a robotic mission to an asteroid named Kamevulova in 2024. The mission spacecraft will pass by Earth in order to release the specimen and then use the planet’s gravity to make its second trip to a comet. Gregory kulaki, China’s project manager at the Association of Concerned Scientists, normalizes cooperation between Russia and China. “The Russians have a lot of experience and the Chinese have the resources to finance it,” he said.

The new agreement for the construction of the lunar base shows the expansion of interaction between the two countries. Russia is now embarking on China’s ambitious plans to build a base for future space exploration and extraction of the moon’s natural resources. Working with China for the Russians to gain the ability to revive the Soviet lunar exploration project includes the Luna robotic program, which began in the 1950s. پی ژائوThe deputy director of the China Space Exploration Center announced at a conference in Nanjing in April that Russia’s next three lunar missions would be integrated into China’s Changhai program.

Poster of Yuri Gagarin in Moscow

Poster of Yuri Gagarin in Moscow on the anniversary of his flight into space.

For example, Luna 27 and Changhai 6 are supposed to dig the surface of the moon and bring samples to Earth. China did so last December with the Changhai 5 mission, and the Soviet Union achieved this three times in the 1970s with the Luna settlers. In the second phase, between 2026 and 2030, the Changhai 8 and Luna 28 missions will land on the moon separately with the first elements of the lunar station.

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Russia plans to return to the moon in October. However, Russia’s space program has a long history of long delays. Finally, China hopes the lunar station will demonstrate the ability to generate the energy, minerals and water resources needed for astronauts’ short-term survival, as well as serve as a base for deeper space exploration.

Namrata Goswami, An independent analyst and author of a new book on space exploration calledRise to the heavens“Permanent base,” he told the New York Times [روی ماه] “It has both symbolic capacities and a display of power.”

NASA plans to send astronauts back to the moon and send them to Mars one day. The US space agency has partnered with various countries for this purpose under an agreement called Artemis Accords, which oversees space activities, including operations, experiments and natural resource extraction.

China is not explicitly barred from cooperating with NASA; However, given US restrictions on space cooperation and its determination to build indigenous programs, it will definitely not sign the agreement. Russia is also unlikely to be a partner in the US Artemis program, given its willingness to cooperate with China. According to Johnson Fries, “China keeps Russia in a space game far beyond supporting its economy.”

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