BRICS countries are aiming to set up a joint grouping of space satellites for remote sensing of Earth, Igor Komarov, the head of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), was quoted by Russian media on Monday.

“Yesterday we had a first session of the head of space agencies of BRICS member states,” Komarov said. “This is a new initiative and a new format.”

“We have agreed that in this perspective we will set up a joint grouping of satellites for the Earth remote sensing and are currently finalizing legal aspects of an agreement on the exchange of data gathered from the Earth remote sensing,” Komarov added.

Russia will host heads of space agencies of BRICS member states in May-June 2017.

“We have agreed to hold our meetings in a regular format and to hold the next one in Russia in May or June next year,” Komarov said.

Both China and India have ambitious space programs in place, while Russia continues to run the world’s only reliable “space taxi” after the US retired its space shuttles in 2011.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for the country to establish itself as a space power.

The US Congress has banned NASA from engaging in cooperation with its Chinese counterpart due to security concerns.

China in 2003 became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket after the former Soviet Union and the United States.

China’s latest manned space mission is due in October and is aiming for a manned moon landing by 2036.

In late 2013 completed the first lunar “soft landing” since 1976 with the Chang’e-3 craft and its Jade Rabbit rover.