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Russia and the US pledge to work together on a lunar space station

Tensions between the governments of the United States and Russia are undeniably high as of late, but that isn’t stopping scientists in both countries from pledging to help each other break new scientific ground. NASA and the Russian space agency will work together on a new project that will see the construction and deployment of the very first lunar space station.

The program is called the Deep Space Gateway, and that’s exactly what the yet-to-be-built space station will act as. The station, which will be placed in orbit around Earth’s moon, will serve not just as a living quarters for astronauts, but also as a jumping-off point for future missions that will take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before.

“The partners intend to develop international technical standards which will be used later, in particular to create a space station in lunar orbit,” Russia’s space agency said in a statement regarding the agreement. The two nations will provide each other with support as they develop, test, and eventually build the technologies that will be installed aboard the new space station. The partnership will also help to develop international standards for technical systems that would allow other countries to build compatible spacecraft, opening up the station to visitors from many developed nations.

The ultimate goal in all of this is for NASA and other nations to send astronauts on manned missions to Mars and potentially beyond. NASA has a very rough, tentative plan to send a manned mission to Mars sometime before 2030. That mission, which would see astronauts orbiting the planet rather than actually touching down, is still being conceptualized.