A new lunar-lander is in the works…this time, from a former contender of the Space Race: Russia.
Russia, who went head-to-head with the US during the cold war to gain spaceflight supremacy, is now back in the game with plans to create a four-legged spacecraft that can take at least two cosmonauts from a lunar orbit to the surface of the moon.
The spacecraft is reminiscent of the famous Eagle lunar module, which was the same lander that brought Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon.
It weighs almost 20 tons, but is designed to be a smaller and cheaper Angara-5V rocket versus the massive moon rocket, such as the Saturn V, built by NASA during the Apollo era.
The development of the lunar lander is in line with the country’s strategic goals in human space flight, and it leaves the door open for possible international cooperation.
In order for the operation to work, Russian engineers behind the project are hoping to use a couple of Angara-5V rockets to first bring the unmanned lander to its departure point on the lunar orbit. Then, to carry the transport ship with a manned crew of four cosmonauts from Earth to the lunar orbit, it will require two more rockets.
From there, the two spacecrafts can then link up and allow two crew members to transfer to the lunar module, undock, and make its descent to the moon. In this respect, there are a number of different "stages" to the mission. But whether or not any of them will actually play out remains to be seen.
And as previously mentioned, an international joint effort hasn't been totally ruled out. Long ago, NASA abandoned its work on the Altair lunar lander as a way of saving money. Yet, the US continues to work on the big SLS rocket, which is an ideal candidate for lunar missions.