Russia and China should sign an agreement for a joint project to study the moon by the end of the year, a Russian official said.

Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian Space Agency, said government officials concluded that China is a leading space power — along with Russia and the United States — and that Russia’s cooperative program with China should be expanded, said. As a result of a Russia-China sub-commission’s work, Perminov said, the priority is a joint program on moon exploration, said.

Besides conducting moon explorations, Perminov said China may sign a contract to participate in a Russian project to bring soil back from one of Mars’ moons, said.

Other possible joint ventures could include creation of a Russian-Chinese system of radio interferometers and a joint creation of a mobile satellite communication and digital radio broadcasting system, China Daily said.