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Russian-Sino Space Cooperation

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  • 58 Pages
  • March 2019
  • Region: Global
  • Commercial Space Technologies Ltd.
  • ID: 5213963

Since 1991 Russia has intensified its international activities. Before the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, the main direction of Russia’s foreign policy was the establishment and maintenance of allied relations with the western bloc countries. The clash of interests of the Russian Federation and the United States in Ukraine was the reason for the imposition of sanctions on both sides, which affected almost all areas of cooperation, including in the field of space exploration. For example, a restriction was imposed on the supply of electronic components from the United States, necessary for satellites’ production.

In order to mitigate the negative effects of sanctions, Russia has begun to strengthen relations with China in many areas of international relations. As for space cooperation, its goals were: the unification of Russia and China in the field of financing, as well as the exchange of experience and the implementation of those joint expensive space projects, which would be impossible without cooperation. Russia has extensive experience in the field of space research and exploration, but its own industrial production is currently not up to the optimum level: therefore, Russia has to import some of the parts necessary for the construction of spacecraft. China is a country with the second largest economy in the world, capable of being a partner of Russia in the supply of component technology. At the same time, China is actively developing outer space, but in many areas in the field of design and in the field of practical experience in space exploration, it is lagging behind Russia.

For example, the Russian GLONASS navigation system has an orbital constellation of 24 satellites, determines the location of an object with an accuracy of 2.8 m and has a global status, while the Chinese BeiDou has 39 satellites, determines the location of an object with an accuracy of 10 m, and has a regional status (covers the Asia-Pacific region). Although China has its own orbital station, is interested in gaining access to the Russian part of the ISS, since it has no practical experience in sending Chinese astronauts into space for a long duration. The implementation of such a project is unlikely in the future, because the United States blocks access of the taikonauts to the ISS (access for astronauts on board is regulated by all the participating countries). The creation of a Russian-Chinese orbital station was suggested as an alternative solution, but the People’s Republic of China (PRC) already has its own, while the Russian Federation has plans to launch its own and both countries do not show much interest in a joint project, since from the point of view of technology, Russia and China are independent in this field. More useful and profitable projects are the creation of joint ventures for the assembly of satellites, upper stages and other elements of the space industry.

China’s vast experience in the production of machines, various electronics, together with Russia’s resources, will ensure a level of cooperation in the field of satellite systems, which will certainly quantitatively and qualitatively improve the interaction between both countries in many areas. Mutual assistance in eliminating the consequences of accidents and disasters, the formation of a unified transport system, constant cooperation in the field of mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, the creation of new industries in the Russian Federation and much more can become feasible.

This report is a spring-off the earlier one dedicated to Chinese space exploration programme. It uses only open-source information. The data in the tables of Section 2 are from Seradata’s SpaceTrak database. The data in the tables of Section 2 reflect the situation as of March 5, 2019."

Table of Contents


Section 1. Retrospective

Section 2. Current Plans
2.1. Near Earth missions
2.1.1. Remote Sensing
2.1.2. Navigation
2.1.3. Communications
2.1.4. Science & Technology
2.1.5. Manned spaceflight Space station
2.1.6. Space debris monitoring
2.2. The Moon
2.3. Deep space
2.4. Space components
2.4.1 Liquid rocket engines
2.4.2. Electronic components
2.4.3. Solar cells
2.4.4. Power sources

Section 3. Conclusions

  • Referenced reports
  • Non Publisher references



Companies Mentioned

  • China National Space Administration
  • Hi-Target Surveying Instrument Co.
  • Roscosmos
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization
  • United Launch Alliance