NASA has signed a joint statement with its Russian counterpart to collaborate on a future spaceport orbiting the moon called Deep Space Gateway.
"This joint statement reflects the common vision for human exploration that NASA and Roscosmos share," NASA said Wednesday.
"Both agencies, as well as other International Space Station partners, see the gateway as a strategic component of human space exploration architecture that warrants additional study."
NASA offered few other details about the agreement, which was signed at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.
It said only that the space station partners are working to identify common exploration objectives and possible missions for the 2020s, including the gateway concept.
However, Igor Komarov the head of Roscosmos, said at the meeting in Adelaide that the new agreement is for the two space agencies to participate jointly in the creation of the international near moon station Deep Space Gateway and that the first modules would be built between 2024 and 2026, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.
NASA has previously described Deep Space Gateway as a crew-tended spaceport orbiting the moon that would include:
- A small habitat for astronauts.
- Docking and airlock facilities for spacecraft such as NASA's Orion (which is under development).
- A power distribution system.
NASA said the facility would serve as a gateway to both deep space and the lunar surface and would be developed, serviced and used in collaboration with commercial and international partners.
Komarov said the agreement also allows for China, India, Brazil and South Africa — which were not partners in the International Space Station — to participate in the Deep Space Gateway project if approved by Russia and the U.S.