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Nato Ally Turkey Seeks China-Russia Moon Project, Snubs US-Led Artemis Program

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Turkey has reportedly expressed its intention to join a moon base project spearheaded by China and Russia, diverging from the US-led Artemis program.

What Happened: In a strategic move, Turkey has applied to join the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), a moon-based initiative led by China and Russia, the South China Morning Post reported. This marks the first NATO member to seek membership in the project.

Turkey’s application was confirmed by Anatoly Petrukovich, the director of the Space Research Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, during a press conference in Moscow. The ILRS aims to establish a base on the moon’s south pole by 2035.

Space analyst John Sheldon, from AstroAnalytica, conveyed that Turkey’s decision to join the ILRS aligns with its growing space ambitions and could bring significant technological and budgetary contributions to the project. Sheldon also highlighted the geopolitical implications of Turkey’s move, suggesting it reflects a pivot from Western alliances towards engagement with China and Russia.

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If accepted, Turkey would become the 10th nation to participate in the ILRS, joining countries like Venezuela, Pakistan, and Egypt. This contrasts with the 36 countries that have signed the U.S.-led Artemis Accords, which outline principles for space exploration but do not necessarily include participation in the Artemis Programme for the moon and Mars missions.

Why It Matters: Turkey’s application to the ILRS comes amid Russia’s announcement of plans to establish a nuclear power plant on the moon by 2035 with China’s cooperation. The collaboration between China and Russia on lunar exploration endeavors, including the potential nuclear facility, represents a significant step in their space partnership.

However, China has been subtly reducing Russia’s role in its space program, despite their joint lunar project announcement.

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Photo via Unsplash.


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