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MOSCOW: Russia and China unveiled plans Tuesday for a joint lunar space station, as Moscow seeks to recapture the glory of its space pioneering days of Soviet times, and Beijing gears up its own extraterrestrial ambitions.

Though Moscow was once at the forefront of space travel - it sent the first man into space - its cosmic ambitions have dimmed thanks to poor financing and endemic corruption. It has been eclipsed by China and the United States, which have both clocked major wins in space exploration and research in recent years. The Russian space agency Roscomos said in a statement that it had signed an agreement with China's National Space Administration (CNSA) to develop a "complex of experimental research facilities created on the surface and/or in the orbit of the Moon".

The CNSA, for its part, said that the project was "open to all interested countries and international partners" in what experts said would be China's biggest international space cooperation project to date. Moscow is seeking to re-take the lead in the space race.