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Is China-Russia partnership to build lunar base dead?

China/Russian Lunar base roadmap
The so-called Chinese-Russian partnership to explore
the Moon.

In 2021 China and Russia announced a long term plan to jointly explore the Moon, with the project eventually leading to the construction of a joint lunar base.

The graphic to the right comes from that announcement. It lists all lunar missions being built by both Russia and China, and outlined the step-by-step process in which both will work together to build that base.

At the time I noted the likelihood of serious Russian delays, since confirmed. I then noted this:

This decision [by Russia to delay] also demonstrates that Russia’s so-called partnership with China to explore the Moon …is pure hogwash.

Russia’s track record in space since the fall of the Soviet Union has been poor. It hasn’t been able to complete almost any project on time, with many dying stillborn. Most of the time Russian authorities make big announcements of big plans, but nothing ever gets built.

It appears now that China has recognized this reality. In presentations at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Paris last week, China repeatedly offered payload space on its many planetary missions — as listed to the right — to outside nations and even private concerns.

Based on China’s recent track record, those missions will fly, and will likely fly close to their predicted launch dates. Since its space program is designed by China to promote itself, it hopes to get others to participate for propaganda reasons. It also hopes it can then steal some technology from that partnership, as also shown by its long term track record.

What China’s presentations at IAC did not do, however, was mention Russia.

The only visible representation of potential Russian [participation] came in a slide listing future Chinese Chang’e and Russia Luna missions, alongside graphics of the Chinese Long March 9 super heavy-lift rocket and a large Russian launch vehicle. The slide was taken straight from ILRS handbook released to coincide with the St. Petersburg event in 2021, and Russia nor its missions were not explicitly named.

It is hard to say if the lack of representation of Russian involvement reflects a change in Beijing’s thinking or a sensitivity to the current geopolitical context. But China appears to face a dilemma for its grandest space ambitions so far.

It appears China has recognized the paper tiger nature of its partnership with Russia. It hasn’t precluded the partnership, but it realizes that its program to explore the Moon and the solar system must move forward independent of Russia, or else Russia will act like a lead weight to slow it down.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

4 comments

  • GaryMike

    I was in China in 1983, not long after they allowed outside visitors.

    One of the places I most remember is an exhibit hall in the Beijing science museum and planetarium.

    The exhibit hall was circular with a 360 degree mural high on the wall of space suited ‘astronauts’ walking on the moon.

    There were no American flags or flag emblems. It generically suggested that such a thing was a Chinese accomplishment.

    China only respects itself. Who could have seen that coming?

  • Concerned

    GaryMike:
    Opening the China Door was a mistake of historic proportions by Kissinger/Nixon. We’re only now starting to pay the enormous price of pumping trillions of dollars into that closed, corrupt government.

  • Star Bird

    The Bear and the Dragon to Spy on us

  • GaryMike

    Concerned,

    Back in the late 80’s, I worked with the mother of the CEO of Hughes Aerospace. Hughes at the time was helping China to learn how to stage rocket segments and do fairing deploys.

    I always wondered how he could be so smart and also be so stupid.

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