Two words: Moon base. AFP reports the US and Russia will work together on a NASA program to build the Deep Space Gateway, a space station in orbit around the moon. NASA and Russia's Roscosmos signed an agreement to cooperate on the station—which will be "an invaluable pit stop for human and robotic exploration of the lunar surface" and "a staging point for deep space missions" to Mars and Venus—on Wednesday at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Australia, according to Motherboard. While the Deep Space Gateway program is being led by NASA, Roscosmos will contribute docking ports and life support systems, and Russian rockets will be used to help with construction, Engadget reports.
NASA wants to start work on the Deep Space Gateway, which will be crewed by four astronauts, in the mid-2020s. It's one step toward its goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s. In statements, Roscosmos and NASA say they share a "common vision for human exploration." The Deep Space Gateway agreement is important for a number of reasons. It clarifies NASA's goals and how it will achieve them after years of funding issues. It also makes it less likely Congress will put the kibosh on the Deep Space Gateway at some point. Finally, the agreement will be one more thing keeping the US and Russia from—as Engadget puts it—descending "into outright hostilities." Space is so far one of the few places where tensions between the two countries haven't risen recently. (China has some big lunar ambitions, too.)