The agreement between Nasa and the Russian space agency Roscosmos was signed at a space congress in Adelaide, and the United States group said the crewed lunar orbiter will act as a "gateway to deep space and the lunar surface".
The program is called the Deep Space Gateway, and that's exactly what the yet-to-be-built space station will act as.
"The agreements reached open new prospects for worldwide cooperation and expand the opportunities for using the capabilities of the Russian space industry".
"In order to avoid problems in the future in technical cooperation, part of the standards should be unified - for the ability of different countries to work on their products and to join the global near-moon station" Igor Komarov, Roscosmos director, said in the release.
Such a space station would orbit the Moon and allow for an environment to prepare for crewed missions deeper into space than those attempted before. "NASA aims to begin a cadence of one flight per year after the second mission, and the agency has established an initial set of integrated human exploration objectives combining the efforts aboard the International Space Station, SLS and Orion, and other capabilities needed to support human missions to explore deep space", NASA stated.
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Nasa said it had signed a joint statement with Russian space agency Roscosmos at an International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia on Wednesday.
"Building a strategic capability for advancing and sustaining human space exploration in the vicinity of the Moon will require the best from NASA, interested worldwide partners, and USA industry", explained NASA in a post on their official website. It will also work on the station's docking mechanisms. The Deep Space Gateway agreement is important for a number of reasons.
In statements, Roscosmos and NASA say they share a "common vision for human exploration".
A crewed mission to the moon and ultimately deep space would likely involve NASA's enormous new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion space capsule.
"That is a rather significant contribution".