While Russia refuses to get into a lunar exploration competition with the US, it does want to establish an international space station. Credit: Roscosmos.

Take your lunar exploration race and shove it, says Russia.

No way, no how will Russia engage in such a competitive race with the United States at this juncture in history.

Instead Russia will start work on a new orbital station, said the head of nation’s state space corporation Roscosmos, China Daily reported.

“We are not going to take part in some lunar race that resembles an election competition between Republicans and Democrats,” Dmitry Rogozin told the Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station on Monday.

US President Donald Trump last month signed an executive order, proclaiming Washington’s right to extract various metals and other mineral resources on the moon, particularly within the late phases of the NASA’s Artemis lunar program, China Daily reported.

However, Russia has expressed interest in working in tandem with Lunar Gateway, another moon exploration project transiting humans to the moon proposed by NASA.

Sergey Saveliev, deputy director-general of Roscosmos, said projects related to exploration of the moon could become a serious factor in cooperation between the two countries in difficult times, China Daily reported.

Meanwhile, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Office of International and Interagency Relations Michael Gold denied reports of the US’s unwillingness to include Russia in a new agreement on lunar exploration.

Roscosmos said in response that joint lunar exploration projects could boost cooperation between Russia and the US, and it has invited NASA officials to Russia to discuss it further, China Daily reported.

However, Rogozin said Russia will not, in any cases, accept any attempts to privatize the moon.

He said that Russia would begin its lunar program in 2021 by launching the Luna-25 spacecraft to the moon, and the Luna-26 spacecraft in 2024. After that, the Luna-27 lander will be sent to the moon to dig up regolith and carry out research, China Daily reported.

Besides the lunar projects, Russia will start work on its new orbital station, Rogozin said.

He said Russia, which “has always been a leader in creating orbital stations,” will soon decide if a future station should be a visited one or inhabitable, and whether it should be an international or national space station, China Daily reported.

Rogozin expected the International Space Station to exist for 7-10 years more, considering the station’s structural fatigue and the lifespan of the orbiter’s modules.