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BRICS in Orbit: Russia Eyes Space Exploration Cooperation with Emerging Economies

Russia, an integral participant in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) group, is seeking to expand its cooperation with the consortium in areas beyond geopolitics, including space exploration. Yuri Borisov, the director general of the Russian state-owned space corporation, Roscosmos, extended an offer on July 24, 2023, to train engineers and scientists from BRICS nations at Russia’s premier universities. Moreover, Borisov initiated discussions about collaboration within Russia’s future orbital outpost project.

While BRICS cooperation is frequently linked to political and economic issues, Borisov’s proposal illustrates a commitment to broader engagement. During a meeting of the BRICS Joint Committee for Space Cooperation, Borisov posited the idea of providing education opportunities in Russia for BRICS engineers and scientists, aiming to secure conditions for progress amidst the current digital age and space race.

Borisov’s proposal also encompassed joint initiatives in space, aligning with Russia’s plans for a new orbital station following its departure from the International Space Station (ISS). The Russian project may potentially incorporate a dedicated module for scientific research for BRICS nations.

Prior to this proposal, Roscosmos had extended a similar offer to African nations, suggesting the development of national modules. Despite the currently nascent space sector in Africa, Russia remains interested in fostering such collaborations.

Furthermore, Borisov pointed towards the inclusion of the “Milky Way” project, a scheme focused on monitoring Earth’s surrounding space to avert potential hazards. This initiative necessitates global cooperation for the deployment of observation stations across the globe.

During his address, Borisov accentuated the necessity of a BRICS Development Bank to fund new projects in technology and space exploration. He also referenced ongoing efforts to develop a remote-sensing satellite constellation for BRICS nations, which could aid in tackling issues like climate change and natural disasters.

Space collaboration within BRICS could prove highly beneficial for Russia, given the significant potential of the group’s developing economies. The consortium includes India and China, both countries with robust national space sectors. This move comes amid efforts by the United States to bolster its own cooperation with these nations, exemplified by NASA administrator Bill Nelson’s recent visit to Brazil to discuss partnerships, including initiatives to protect the Amazon rainforest.

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