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Egypt joins China-led International Lunar Research Station

Throughout this year, China has been actively working to draw countries into its ILRS project.

Egypt and China have formalised a series of space agreements, solidifying their partnership in various aspects of space exploration, with a notable focus on the China-led International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), according to a report by Space News.

The agreements were signed by Zhang Kejian, Administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), and Sherif Sedky, Chief Operating Officer of the Egyptian Space Agency (EGSA), during a ceremony held in Beijing.

The key accord signed between CNSA and EGSA pertains to cooperation on the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), a significant initiative led by China. Additionally, both nations inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) outlining collaborative efforts and the peaceful use of outer space, as detailed in a statement from CNSA.

Egypt’s participation in the ILRS makes it the first Arab country to join this lunar exploration initiative and the second African nation to do so, following South Africa’s inclusion in September. The ILRS, spearheaded by China, envisions the construction of a permanent lunar base in the 2030s, with precursor missions scheduled for the 2020s. The ILRS initiative is regarded as a parallel project and potential competitor to the NASA-led Artemis Programme.

The scope of collaboration outlined in the agreements encompasses joint research endeavours in lunar and deep space exploration, spacecraft development and launches, space infrastructure projects, satellite data reception and applications, participation in the BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation, and collaborative efforts in space science and astronomical observation.

This development follows a trajectory of increasing space cooperation between Egypt and China. Notably, China initiated the establishment of a satellite assembly, integration, and test centre in Cairo for Egypt in 2019, which officially opened in June this year. China’s recent launch of the Misrsat-2 remote sensing satellite for Egypt further exemplifies the growing partnership, with the satellite’s assembly and testing taking place at the new AIT centre.

China’s proactive efforts to attract international collaborators to the ILRS project have yielded positive responses in 2023, with countries such as Venezuela, South Africa, Pakistan, and Azerbaijan joining the initiative. This collaborative approach underscores China’s commitment to advancing global space exploration and fostering international partnerships in the realm of lunar and deep space research.