By John B. Sheldon
A senior official from the Russian state space corporation, Roscosmos, has indicated that Russia is open to discussions with the United States regarding Russia’s role in the Artemis lunar programme – in particular the Lunar Gateway mission – within the framework of NASA’s proposed Artemis Accords.
The initial Russian reaction to the Artemis Accords was an angry one when the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, likened the as yet unreleased Accords to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq in a series of Tweets.
Matters were not helped when rumours began circulating that the US had no intention of talking with Russia about the Accords, prompting NASA’s Acting Associate Administrator for the Office of International and Interagency Relations, Michael Gold, to publicly state, “I think it’s unfortunate that there were a lot of media leaks that did not properly describe what the Artemis Accords were, so I’m not surprised for some of those reactions. Frankly, if I was in their place, I might have reacted similarly, given the information that was presented.”
In light of this, the Roscosmos Deputy Director General for International Cooperation, Sergey Saveliev, told Russia’s TASS News Agency on 16 May 2020 that, “Ambitious projects related to exploration of the Moon could become a serious factor in cooperation of the two countries in difficult times.”
NASA’s Michael Gold added in an interview with TASS that NASA is keen for Russia to become a partner in the exploration of the Moon, and is especially interested in Russian participation in the Lunar Gateway programme, a space station that would orbit the Lagrange Points in Cislunar space and act as waystation for human missions to the Moon’s surface.
Gold added that NASA has sent a memorandum to Roscosmos detailing its desire for Russian participation and specific areas where Russian technology and expertise present opportunities for cooperation.
For his part, Sergey Saveliev of Roscosmos told TASS that his agency has invited NASA officials to Moscow for discussions but had so far not received a reply.
“We formally invited the top officials of NASA to come to our country, but we have received no reply so far. I hope that we will receive it and that it will be positive,” Saveliev said.