Russia And China Advance Plans For Lunar Nuclear Power Plant And Research Station

Russia and China are moving forward with their ambitious plans to establish a joint lunar research complex powered by a Russian-built nuclear facility. Roscosmos director general Yury Borisov revealed new details about the project in an article published by state news outlet RIA Novosti.

According to Borisov, the development of the nuclear power plant is underway, and the countries are working on creating experimental and research facilities. The International Scientific Lunar Station (ILRS) will be deployed in two stages from 2025 to 2035 and consist of several modules.

Borisov emphasized the importance of a reliable, long-lasting nuclear energy source on the moon as lunar nights last about 14 Earth days, making solar panels insufficient. Russia and China first announced their intention to build the ILRS in 2021 with plans to break ground in 2026.

While there is no suggestion of a military aspect to the project, the deepening ties between Russia and China since the war in Ukraine have raised concerns. The Institute for the Study of War think tank said in March that the lunar base signaled the countries’ “long-term strategic partnership to posture against and possibly threaten the West.”

The U.S., Russia and China are all members of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and any space nuclear system launch requires a rigorous safety analysis, according to the U.S. State Department.