Russia and China have been considering plans to deliver and install a shared nuclear power plant on a settlement built by robots on the surface of the moon.

Head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, announced on Tuesday that Russia and China are considering setting up a nuclear power plant on the moon from 2033-35.

Russian officials have suspended their joint space programs with the West over the sanctions imposed on Moscow because of the Ukraine war. The Russians are presently exploring ways to expand their space programs in cooperation with China.

Russia says cooperation in space only possible once West fully removes sanctions
Russia says cooperation in space only possible once the West lifts its sanctions against Moscow.

Yury Borisov, who serves as Director General of Roscosmos, told students at a lecture that Russia and China were presently giving the joint project serious considerations, Russian media reported.

The nuclear power plant planned for the moon would need to be set up by robots, he said, adding that the two powerhouse nations of the space technology have been jointly working on the lunar program and that Moscow was able to contribute with its expertise to “nuclear space energy.”

“Today we are seriously considering a project – somewhere at the turn of 2033-2035 – to deliver and install a power unit on the lunar surface together with our Chinese colleagues,” Borisov said.

He pointed out that nuclear power would be needed on the moon because solar panels would not be able to provide enough electricity to power the future settlements planned for the moon.

“This is a very serious challenge…it should be done in automatic mode, without the presence of humans,” he insisted.

China set to send its first civilian astronaut into space
China will send its first civilian astronaut into space on Tuesday.

Borisov pointed out that all the main technical issues concerning the project, including how to transport the cargo, have been resolved. However, he said one question still remains which is how to cool the nuclear reactor in the power plant.

“We are indeed working on a space tugboat. This huge, cyclopean structure that would be able, thanks to a nuclear reactor and high-power turbines…to transport large cargoes from one orbit to another, collect space debris and engage in many other applications,” Borisov said.

Russia’s space programs officials have spoken before of their ambitious plans to one day settle on the moon. That comes as the Russian space program has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years.

Last year, Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft spun out of control and crashed. However, the Russians said they will launch more lunar missions and then explore the possibility of a joint Russian-Chinese crewed mission and even a lunar base.

Meanwhile, China said last year that it aimed to put its first civilian astronauts into space.

Beijing said last month that it aimed to put the first Chinese astronaut onto the moon before 2030.

Russia slams US for ‘malicious fabrication’ over space capabilities
Such tricks, the Kremlin says, are played by the White House only to urge lawmakers to approve more money to counter Russia.

Also last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed a warning issued by Washington that Moscow had plans to put nuclear weapons in space as false, saying the US announcement was a ploy to draw Russia into fresh arms negotiations on terms set by the West.

Russia has suspended a nuclear weapons reduction treaty with the United States.

Putin has said that the military objectives and foreign policy of  the United States are aimed at annihilating the Russians, which directly contradicts with the fundamental principles and understandings enshrined in the preamble of a nuclear treaty.

The Kremlin has concluded that the United States has been in violation of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, accusing Washington of being in non-compliance with its provisions and also trying to undermine Russia’s national security.

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