Russia Shoots for the Moon (Again); Announces Permanent Lunar Base

10. 30. 15 by Tomasz Nowakowski
A model of the Russian Luna 25 probe being exhibited for visitors to the MAKS-2015 International Air Show in Moscow. Photo Credit: Gazeta.ru

You’ve probably heard this before: Russia aims to send humans to the lunar surface, but this time (apparently) they really mean it. The country’s proposed moon shot is planned for 2029 and will feature a manned landing as the next step in Russia’s efforts to build a permanent lunar base.

This week, one of the top Russian space industry officials, Vladimir Solntsev, revealed that Russia will land a man on the moon by the end of the next decade. Solntsev is the chief of the Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia (RKK Energia), the Russian space industry giant, which manufactures a large fleet of the nation’s launch vehicles and spacecraft.

“A manned flight to the moon and lunar landing is planned for 2029,” Solntsev announced during a space technology conference in Moscow.

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Lunar exploration was unveiled is a part of the Russian Federal Space Program 2016-2025, which outlines the country’s activity in space for upcoming years. The program envisions sending unmanned robotic probes to the moon around the close of the 20s, which will set the stage for later missions by testing landing technologies. A total of five spacecraft have been outlined in the roadmap: Two landers, one orbiter, one rover, and a sample return vehicle.

Those missions would the first steps to establish a future base on the Moon.

Russia also turns its eyes on China when mulling future lunar exploration. The Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin revealed that these two countries are engaged in talks about creating a joint lunar station. According to him, Russia and China share deep mutual understanding and mutual interests in space-related projects. The proposed lunar station would be a great platform for further exploration of the Earth’s natural satellite.

Russia’s notorious efforts to put a man on the moon could be supported by the country’s private sector.

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Lunar colony. Image credit: ESA

The Russian Lin Industrial company stated, in January this year, that it has all that it takes to build a lunar base cheap and fast (though ‘cheap and fast’ may not be the best way to do rocket science). The company believes it can construct a manned base in just 10 years for about $10 billion. Sounds unbelievable (and a little bit expensive), but Lin Industrial estimates that it’s not a mission-impossible case and it could be achieved by using existing machinery and equipment that can be produced within the next five years.

All the plans are currently still in the project design phases, as the deadline is very distant.

That said, the date of returning to the moon has been delayed by Russia numerous times, and (if history is any measure), it will probably be postponed again. Yet, a lot could change between now and 2029, as a lot has changed since the last man walked on the moon in 1972 and the last Soviet spacecraft soft-landed on the lunar surface in 1976. Who would have thought then that it would be more than 40 years before we returned?

So time will tell.

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