China's Moon Base to Rival NASA Advances After Russia Deal

China will this year begin work on the next phase of its lunar program to build a base on the Moon for research, its space agency announced, a project in cooperation with Russia that will rival NASA's own efforts to establish an orbital facility.

Phase 4 of China's program will carry out scientific examination of the Moon's south pole with a view to constructing a research base there, state media reported.

Wu Yanhua, vice administrator of the China National Space Administration, told CGTN they hoped to survey the area and build some facilities within a decade.

China space shuttle launch
The manned Shenzhou-12 spacecraft from China's Manned Space Agency onboard the Long March-2F rocket launches with three Chinese astronauts onboard at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 17, 2021 in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China. China will work with Russia to develop its space program. Getty

"And in the 10 years or so after the first stage, we look to build a comparatively all-around science station, with engagement from different countries, organizations, including private-sector participation," Wu said.

After the news emerged, Russia confirmed it would work alongside China on several projects related to the study of the Moon as well as further exploration.

Russian ambassador to China Andrey Denisov told Russia's state news agency Tass: "The Russian side is ready to cooperate with Chinese friends and it will constantly assume efforts to contribute more to the promotion of joint space exploration projects."

Russia and China signed a space cooperation program for 2018 through to 2022 in November 2017. They had previously committed to building a Moon base together by 2035.

Tass reported that the deal covers the study of the Moon and deep space, space research, and satellites and their uses.

The joint project between Beijing and Moscow will aim to rival NASA's Lunar Gateway. According to NASA, the Lunary Gateway will be an outpost that will orbit the Moon and provide "support for a long-term human return" to the celestial body's surface.

Further exploration of space is a stated aim of several nations across the globe, with NASA vying to take a leading role.

Earlier this year, NASA announced Elon Musk's SpaceX company would have competition when it comes to landing a commercially operated crewed spacecraft on the surface of the Moon as part of the wider Artemis mission.

The aim of the Artemis missions is to land the next set of astronauts on the Moon within the next 50 years, ahead of others.

SpaceX was first chosen by NASA as a crewed lunar-landing partner in April 2021. The company's lander is known as Starship and is expected to travel to the Moon's surface no earlier than 2025.

As part of the Artemis mission, the first person of color and the first woman will step foot on the lunar surface.

Newsweek has contacted the CNSA for comment.