Russia Wants to Join NASA Moon Program

By Vladimir Isachenkov
Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — Rivals for lunar conquest four decades ago, Russia hopes to join the U.S. moon exploration program with technology and know-how, a Russian space agency spokesman said Thursday.

Russia was conducting talks with NASA and voiced hope that a deal could be reached within months, said the spokesman, Igor Panarin.

“We want the agreement to reflect Russia's status as a great space power,'' he told The Associated Press, adding that Russia plans to contribute technology rather than money to NASA's project.

NASA said Monday that it would send a four-astronaut crew to the moon in 2020 and set up an international base camp on one of the moon's poles that would be permanently staffed by 2024.

Panarin said the agreement with NASA could be modeled on Russia's deal with the European Space Agency, which envisages launches of commercial satellites by Russian Soyuz rockets from France's Kourou launch pad in French Guyana starting in 2008. Under that deal, Russia would provide booster rockets and the ESA would fund launch pad upgrades.

“We could use a similar approach in the moon project,'' Panarin said.