China, Russia Agree to MoU on Space Cooperation

Russian space launch operator Glavkosmos announced August 3rd that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chinese counterparts to: 1) hold joint experiments aboard the International Space Station; 2) leverage satellites to provide remote sensing capabilities; and 3) explore the moon together.  The MoU reportedly has an expected term of 2018–2022 and is the latest evidence of Russia’s and China’s increasing collaboration in space.  Chinese media reporting on the MoU paraphrased the Russian press and referred to a “Chinese partner company,” suggesting that it has possibly yet to be determined which company specifically will cooperate with Glavkosmos on these endeavors.

Other recent developments in this area include China expressing an interest in purchasing Russian company Energomash’s RD rocket engine, which has potential strategic importance.  Meanwhile, Russian Space Systems has expressed an interest in buying Chinese electrical components.  The two countries are also working to achieve greater compatibility between their respective satellite navigation systems, GLONASS and BeiDou.

This agreement is also notable in the context of the perceived dangers by the U.S. of each of these countries’ military activities in space.