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Egypt Joins China ILRS Lunar Base Program

Egypt is the latest country to sign a cooperation aggrement for China's International Lunar Research Station (ILRS).

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Sat Dec 09 2023Written by Zac Aubert

Egypt is the latest country to sign a cooperation aggrement for China's International Lunar Research Station (ILRS).

Zhang Kejian, Administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), and Sherif Sedky, Chief Operating Officer of the Egyptian Space Agency (EGSA), formalized the agreements at a ceremony held on Wednesday, December 6th in Beijing.

The agreement focuses on cooperation between CNSA and EGSA within the framework of the ILRS, a project led by China with the vision of establishing a permanent lunar base in the 2030s.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries extends to various areas, encompassing joint research in lunar and deep space exploration, spacecraft development and launch, space infrastructure, satellite data reception and applications, the BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation, space science, and astronomical observation.

This collaboration builds on the foundation laid in 2019 when China initiated the establishment of a satellite assembly, integration, and test center for Egypt in Cairo. The AIT center, opened in June 2023, played a crucial role in assembling and testing the Misrsat-2 remote sensing satellite for Egypt, which was recently launched by China.

Egypt's participation in the ILRS makes it the first Arab country to join the project and the second on the African continent after South Africa, which joined in September. Analysts suggest that this move is part of China's broader strategy to deepen its space ties in the Arab world and Africa, considering Egypt as a gateway to the region. 

The ILRS initiative, viewed as a potential competitor to NASA's Artemis Program, has seen growing international participation, with Venezuela, South Africa, Pakistan, and Azerbaijan among the countries joining in 2023.

The agreements between China and Egypt also mark a shift in China's approach to space engagement, moving from turnkey projects to a focus on technology transfer and know-how. 

With Russia officially ratifying a cooperation agreement for the joint construction of the ILRS, the collaboration between China and Egypt further adds to the momentum of this internationally significant initiative. 

The agreements with founding members of ILRS are ongoing, and China has established the ILRS Coordination Organization (ILRSCO) to oversee the initiative from the city of Hefei in Anhui province.

ILRS SignatoryType
South Africa Country
Egypt Country 
Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO)Inter-Governmental Organization
nanoSPACE AG (Switzerland)Firm
International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA, Hawaii)Organization
National Astornomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT)Institute
University of Sharjah (UAE)University
Adriatic Aerospace Association (Croatia)Organization