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Russia Responds to NASA’s Offer for Cooperation on Moon Projects

May 18, 2020 (EIRNS)—In response to a statement by NASA concerning potential Russia participation in the Deep Space Gateway and Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway project and the proposed Artemis Accords on April 15, Deputy Director General for International Cooperation at Roscosmos Sergey Saveliev made a statement to TASS the following day.

“Ambitious projects related to exploration of the Moon could become a serious factor in cooperation of the two countries in difficult times,” Saveliev said, according to a Roscosmos statement.

He said that Roscosmos has invited the top officials of NASA to visit Russia to discuss a wide range of projects and is looking forward to a positive response. “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. He recalled that the space agency’s delegation had been invited to the United States; but the invitation from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was eventually withdrawn, due to senators’ pressure.

The statement to which Saveliev responded was made by Acting Associate Administrator for NASA’s Office of International and Interagency Relations Michael Gold, in which he countered media reports that the United States was not willing to include Russia in its draft agreement on Moon exploration as incorrect. “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,” Gold said.

In answer to a TASS question on whether Russia was seen as a partner in Moon exploration and could count on signing an agreement within the framework of Artemis Accords if it wants to, Gold said, “I think in many ways Russia already has. As you know, Russia is a signatory to the [1967] Outer Space Treaty,” he said. “That’s why I’m very hopeful that now that we come out and have described what’s in these accords and that they are grounded on the Outer Space Treaty, that Russia will be able to take a hard look at this kind of thing now.”

“As we look at the Russian cooperation on Artemis, I expect a great deal of it,” he concluded. “It may center around the Gateway. That may be a precursor, possibly, to Artemis Accords agreements, because Russia already expressed interest in participating in the Gateway program. There is nothing in the Accords, we would hope, that Russia would object to.”

Britain’s Reuters news agency had earlier reported that the Artemis Accords would not include Russia in the earlier stages.

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