ADELAIDE /Australia/, September 27. /TASS/. The heads of the Russian and US space agencies have agreed on joint efforts to create what has been called a Deep Space Gateway (DSG) cislunar station, Roscosmos CEO Igor Komarov told the media at an International Astronautical Congress in Australia.
"We’ve agreed to jointly participate in the project for creating a new international lunar station Deep Space Gateway. In the first phase we will create the orbital component with a view to eventually use well-tested technologies on the surface of the Moon and, in the longer term, Mars. The first modules may be put in space in 2024-2026," Komarov said.
So far the participating countries have held a preliminary discussion on their likely contributions.
"We may provide one to three modules and the standards for a unified docking mechanism for all spacecraft that would be approaching the station. Also, Russia offers to use its future super-heavy space rocket, currently in the development phase, for taking parts and components to the Moon’s orbit," Komarov said. Roscosmos’s manned programs director, Sergey Krikalyov, said that alongside the airlock unit Russia might provide a residential module for a future station.
Komarov said individual countries’ technological contribution and the financial aspect of a future project would be the subject matter of the next phase of the talks.
"For now we’ve signed a joint statement on the intention to work on a lunar space station project and to eventually work on missions on the surfaces of the Moon and Mars. A future treaty will require fundamental research and examination at the inter-state level," Komarov said.
Participation of the BRICS member-states in this project was approved.
"Our initiative was taken into account of expanding the number of countries that might take part in discussing this project. It was decided that China, India and other BRICS countries would be involved in the joint work on the lunar station," Komarov said.
Last June Komarov told the media that Russia was going to become the main partner in creating a lunar station alongside NASA and the European Space Agency.
Energia Corporation CEO Vladimir Solntsev told the media that the corporation was prepared to provide an airlock chamber for spacewalks, a descent module capable of landing on the Moon's surface and a spacecraft to take crews to the Moon (a special configuration of the Federatsiya vehicle).
Solntsev then told TASS Energia and the United States’ Boeing Defense, Space & Security hoped to ink a detailed agreement soon on cooperation in exploring deep space.
Deep Space Gateway project
News of the plans for creating a lunar station emerged in the spring of 2016. TASS then quoted documents of the Russian space rocket corporation Energia as saying that joint research with the United States’ Boeing corporation was in progress into future lunar infrastructures to support the national space agencies’ long-term plans.
Two options of a lunar station were proposed - one having two smaller inhabitable modules and the other with one bigger module. Both concepts imply that up to four cosmonauts would be able to work on board the station at any time. Future missions’ duration was estimated at 30 days to 360 days. Flights to the station would be made once a year.
Two options of a future station’s position are considered: one in a high elliptical orbit and the other in a low orbit about 100 kilometers above the Moon’s surface. One will allow for sending probes into deep space and the other, for expeditions to the Moon’s surface.
Earlier, Energia corporation suggested a lunar orbital platform might begin to be created at the end of 2022 and the first crew sent to it in the first half of 2025.
According to NASA plans that appeared in open sources earlier, the first module called Power and Propulsion Bus would be put in orbit around the Moon in 2023. Another two inhabitable modules would be added to it in 2024-2025. All modules would be taken to space by the US super-heavy rocket SLS. Crews would travel to the lunar station on board the Orion spacecraft. There are plans for creating a special cargo vehicle to deliver essentials and other supplies.