Russia Expresses Lunar Gateway Doubts, Ponders Joint Lunar Surface Base with China

The space station formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway (Credit: NASA)

Russian officials are expressing doubts about the American-led Lunar Gateway — which would orbit the moon — while deepening cooperation with China on deep-space exploration projects that could include a crewed base on the surface of Earth’s closest neighbor.

SpaceNews reports that Dmitri Loskutov, head of Roscosmos’ international cooperation department, laid out a series of concerns during a panel discussion last week at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany.

“For the moment, it looks like it is an American program with international participation,” he said. “How will this cooperation be managed? Will there be some sort of international administrative body? Will its principles remain those that are now valid for the International Space Station, in terms of consensus in decision-making?”

“For the moment, all the decisions are made by NASA. It seems U.S. standards will be imposed,” he said. “For Roscosmos and the Russian Federation, limited participation is not that interesting.”

Loskutov’s boss, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin, was in China the week before for joint discussions on a range of cooperative projects.

“As a result of the meeting, a Protocol was signed, according to which the Parties will take further steps to bring their positions closer within the framework of implementing joint projects on launch vehicles and rocket engines, on exploration of the Moon and deep space, remote sensing of the Earth, satellite navigation, creation of an electronic component base for space purposes, low-orbit mobile communication system and space debris monitoring,” according to a Roscosmos press release.

Tass quoted Rogozin as saying the project could include a base on the lunar surface.

“China is a serious partner. I don’t rule out that as soon as we agree the outlines of our lunar program with the Americans, it is our manned lunar program, the formation of a research station on Moon’s surface is likely to be carried out with our Chinese partners. They can be equal partners already in the coming years,” he told Russia’s TV Channel One.

  • newpapyrus

    No logical reason for any international participation in America’s lunar program except for charging foreign agencies $150 million for each foreign astronaut that participates in an American mission to NRHO or to the lunar surface. Just $150 million for a foreign astronaut to go to the lunar surface and to return home with perhaps 10 kilograms of lunar rocks would be an absolute bargain!


  • Smokey_the_Bear

    A lunar gateway is dumb, NASA should be establishing a lunar base, and stop sticking tin cans together in space and calling it a leap forward.

  • Terry Stetler

    They have a choice: Lockheeds lander with 4 ugly bags of mostly water + 1 tonne of cargo, or BFS – which could serve as the initial base until permanent structures are built from the contents of the cargo bay and 12 cargo bins (88 cubic meters in total) in its aft section. Once Blue Origin arrives, SpaceX can haul the big cargo, and Blue Origin can set up a Whole Foods & restaurant for weekend keggers.

  • Robert G. Oler

    There is nothing Russia brings to the table…

  • windbourne

    BO will take a fraction of what BFR is taking to the lunar surface.

    And it makes little sense to use BFS as lunar living quarters. Far better to send multiple BFS cargo ships first ( testing ) with 50-100 tonnes each, and have an established safe quarters already on the moon when ppl go.

  • windbourne

    Actually, they do. Russia has kept America alive in space and overall been a good partner for 20+ years.
    We really need to have ISS partners go to the moon.

  • duheagle

    Yes, especially money. And that being the case, I thought it was damned white of the Russkie to offer China the chance to be an equal partner.

  • duheagle

    I’m all in favor of doing things in future, on the Moon and elsewhere, with our other ISS partners, but not with Russia. Rewarding bad behavior just gets you more bad behavior.

  • therealdmt

    Disagreeableness. Also, conspiracy theories.

    Demands. Russian language requirements

    That’s not nothing


  • ThomasLMatula

    No, actually, the Russians as partners in the ISS enabled the mess in space flight we have today.

    If the Soyuz wasn’t available NASA would have just kept flying the Shuttle to the ISS. The accident that impacted the Shuttle Columbia was a random event and the probably of it happening on the next flight was no higher than in any of the earlier flights. But the presence of the Soyuz as an option gave NASA the option to ground the Shuttle for months, and NASA being risk adverse did so. The availability of the Soyuz also allowed NASA the option to retire the Shuttle early with no replacement. If the Soyuz had not been available as an option NASA would have gone forward with the OSP Program, and the CST-100 that Boeing is planning to fly soon would have been flying a decade earlier.

    So no, we don’t need partners to go to the Moon. But in reality we already have ESA as they are building the service module for the Orion.

  • windbourne

    If soyuz had not been available, then ISS would have come down after Columbia.
    We lost Skylab for that reason.

  • duheagle

    We lost Skylab because it had been damaged on deployment, was only marginally useful after some heroic jury-rigging by its first crew and because nobody wanted to continue paying the high cost of the expendable vehicles that were the only way to get there and back.

    We did not lose Skylab because astronauts were killed on the way back from it.