NASA and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, have signed a joint statement for a new step into deep space exploration.
The joint statement was signed Sept. 27 at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.
The idea is to construct a space station in near-lunar space, to serve as both a test-bed and jumping-off point for destinations beyond the Earth-moon system.
According to a NASA release, the joint statement reflects the common vision for human exploration that NASA and Roscosmos share.
But that vision also extends to other International Space Station partners, according to NASA.
The agency says all interested parties see the gateway as a strategic component of human space exploration architecture that warrants additional study.
NASA has already engaged industry partners in gateway concept studies.
Roscosmos and other space station partner agencies are preparing to do the same.
The space station partners are working to identify common exploration objectives and possible missions for the 2020s, including the gateway concept.
A key element of their study is to ensure that future deep space exploration missions take full advantage of technology development and demonstration enabled by the International Space Station, as well as lessons learned from its assembly and operations.
During the same time period and in parallel, NASA has been engaging U.S. industry to evaluate habitation concepts for the gateway and for the deep space transport that would be needed for Mars exploration.