The head of the Russian space program calls for more international cooperation on NASA’s lunar plans

The head of the Russian space program calls for more international cooperation on NASA's lunar plans

The head of the Russian space program said today that NASA’s plans to return people to the moon are “too focused on the United States” and Russia cannot participate. He has been critical of the program in the past and now says that Russia would be open to participating only if the Moon’s plans were more focused on international cooperation.

Dmitry Rogozin, General Manager of Roscosmos, said through an interpreter during a virtual press conference at the International Astronautical Congress. “If we can go back to thinking about making these principles the basis of the program, Roscosmos can also consider its participation.”

Rogozin explained that he’s not a fan of NASA’s moon program, an initiative called Artemis that aims to send the first woman to the surface of the moon. Part of the program design calls for building a space station around the moon, known as the Moon Gate, which will serve as a settlement point for astronauts to visit before heading to the moon’s surface.

NASA has already partnered with some international agencies of Artemis – notably Canada and Europe – but the US Space Agency leads nearly all of the major elements of the program, including the rockets, capsules, landing craft, and modules needed for the gateway. Rogozin has been outspoken about his hatred of the US-led approach.

“For the United States, this is now a political project,” Rogozin told the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in July. Through the Moon Project, we are observing the departure of our American partners from the principles of cooperation and mutual support that arose during the cooperation on the International Space Station. They consider that their program is not international, but similar to the NATO program. There is America, everyone should help and pay. Frankly, we are not interested in participating in such a project. ”

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Rogozin also expressed disdain for the NASA Artemis Accords, a set of guidelines developed by the space agency and the US State Department for countries to abide by when exploring the moon. The agreements call for a standard set of rules about how to mine the moon and what places need protection on the surface of the moon, such as the Apollo landing sites. Rogozin likened the accords to an “invasion” in a now-deleted tweet.

Today, Rogozin has doubled down on his comments about Artemis. He said during the press conference: “From our point of view, the Moon Gate in its current form is centered on the United States more than necessary,” noting that Russia “is likely to refrain from participating in it on a large scale.” However, Rogozin said he hoped the gate would have a docking port that would allow future Russian spacecraft to join the station if needed. “If Russia builds its own space transportation system, we need the opportunity to dock” with the gate, Rogozin said.

After the talk, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein said the edge That Artemis would use the same legal framework developed for the International Space Station in order to operate the portal. “The International Space Station not only provided advanced technology, but also helped us learn how to work effectively with a variety of cultures and countries,” Bridenstein said in an emailed statement. “This is why we use the IGA, which is the legal framework for the ISS for the portal.”

Bridenstine said NASA’s international partners have agreed to operate the portal in a similar setting through a series of non-binding contracts called Memoranda of Understanding or Memoranda of Understanding. He said he sent a draft memorandum of understanding to Roscosmos in November last year about Gateway operations, but had not received a strong response. “We remain open and interested in receiving their comments on the document and our overall approach to IGA’s use of the International Space Station for the Gateway,” Bridenstein said in the statement.

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As for Rogozen’s comments about cohesion, Bridenstein said he agreed to establish common standards – which is ultimately the goal of the Artemis Accords that Rogozhin has criticized. “Through the agreements, the United States is proactively asking any partner countries that join us on the Artemis journey to focus on common standards that will include not only docking, but data coordination and transmission, communications, navigation and environmental control, life support and many other important systems and processes,” Bridenstine said.

Bridenstein said Reuters In July, he hopes that NASA and the Russian space agency “Roscosmos” will continue to work together. He said at the time: “I have a good relationship with Dmitry Rogozin, so I hope there will be opportunities for us to continue cooperation.”

Update October 12, 1:19 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein.

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