China and Russia are forging stronger ties in space technology with Russia offering to supply rocket engines to China in exchange for Chinese microelectronics, according to the head of Russia’s state space corporation. At the MAKS 2019 Moscow air show on Tuesday, Dmitry Rogozin, director general of Roscosmos, said Russia was also keen to use its rocket technology to launch Chinese satellites. “Cooperation in the field of space transport services could involve the launches of Chinese spacecraft on board Russian carrier rockets to deploy China’s multi-satellite constellation, as well as possible deliveries of rocket engines,” Russian state news agency Sputnik quoted Rogozin as saying. “[From] China, it is the supply of microelectronics that we need.” In addition, representatives from both countries would discuss “cooperation in near-space infrastructure” when a Chinese delegation visits Roscosmos later this year or in early 2020, he said. China’s space ambitions have been held back by a lack of progress in development of a heavy-lift rocket engine. The China National Space Administration had planned to send a probe to Mars, build a permanent space station and land astronauts on the moon within the next decade, but it still does not have the reliable rockets needed to carry the payloads for such missions. China’s most advanced rocket, the Long March 5 series, is designed to send up to 25 tonnes to lower-Earth orbit, double the capacity of its workhorse, the Long March 3. But there has been no sign of the Long March 5 on the launch pad since the failure of its second flight in July 2017. The main problem is the rocket’s new YF-77 booster engine, China’s first cryogenic rocket engine, which burns liquid hydrogen fuel and a liquid oxygen oxidiser. The engine was redesigned last year, but after repeated cancellations and delays, the next launch is not expected until the first half of next year. Russian technology could help plug that gap, according to Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming. “China urgently needs heavy-booster liquid-fuel rocket engines, of which Russia has some good offerings,” Zhou said. China’s failed Long March 5 rocket ‘choked to death’, but space mission expected to resume this year Russia’s wealth of experience in launching heavy-lift rockets dates back to the Soviet era. Its Proton series rockets had the same payload capacity as the Long March 5 as early as the 1960s and is still in use today. However, the Protons use very toxic fuels and are expected to be replaced by the cleaner Angara series under development in Russia. Rogozin did not say what “near-space infrastructure” the two countries would pursue together but one project might be China’s Tiangong space station project. He also said satellite navigation was a potential area of cooperation, with China set to complete its BeiDou Navigation Satellite System by next year and Russia rolling out its GLONASS constellation.