BRICS countries sign a new agreement on joint International Lunar Research Station program

Space agencies of China and South Africa signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation at the International Lunar Research Station on September 1, marking South Africa’s formal participation in the program.

The agreements will bring South Africa onto the team for China and Russia’s planned International Lunar Research Station.

China has partnered with Russia on a number of upcoming projects, including the International Lunar Research Station, a planned lunar base consisting of a space station in lunar orbit, a complex on the lunar surface, and a fleet of robots. The two nations said the project is open to all others who would like to join, and have signed on a handful of partners.

In addition, under the framework of the BRICS cooperation on remote sensing satellite constellation, space agencies of China and South Africa have carried out cooperation on remote sensing data exchange and application, as well as communications on satellite ground stations.

The African space economy in 2021 was valued at $19.49 billion and is forecast to grow by some 16 percent in the next four years, according to media reports. However, as of 2022 only 13 African countries have 48 satellites, six of them built by China and one by the US, with experts saying satellite communication is essential to bridging the connectivity gap on the continent.