The Deep Space Gateway could facilitate manned Mars mission.

By Barb Darrow
September 28, 2017

U.S. and Russian space agencies have agreed to work together on a space station near the moon that could expedite manned exploration both to the moon itself and beyond to Mars.

Representatives of NASA and Roscosmos, its Russian counterpart, signed a joint statement Wednesday pledging cooperation. The news came out of the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, according to a NASA statement.

There aren’t a lot of specifics, but generally the two agencies agree that there needs to be further study of NASA’s proposed “deep space gateway.” Such a structure, located near the moon, could theoretically act as a way station for manned flights deeper into space.

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NASA’s acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said in the statement that while the deep space gateway remains a concept, NASA welcomes “growing international interest.”

The agencies agreed to come up with common objectives for space exploration with missions possibly starting in the 2020s. One goal is to take what they have already learned from the International Space Station and parlay it into the new gateway. By putting this structure near the moon, it would be close to control robots on the lunar surface, according to Popular Science.

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NASA has also contracted private companies including Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing ba , Lockheed Martin lmt , Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada, and Nanorack for work on the gateway and space transport.

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