Russia’s Space Plans Revealed: Man on Moon and Mars Landing Among Them

Russia’s space agency plans to send its first manned mission to the Moon and deploy research stations on Mars.

Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Jr fulfilled John F. Kennedy’s promise to reach the Moon by the end of the decade, landing there on July 20, 1969, with NASA’s Apollo 11. Photo: Lucio Virzi/Flickr

According to RT, Russian probes will visit Mars, Jupiter and Venus, while Russian cosmonauts will set foot on the surface of the Moon – all by 2030.

A leaked strategy document from Russia’s space agency, Roskosmos, contains the information about these global plans.

The Kommersant daily said the mission statement from the Roscosmos space agency does not reveal any financial details. At the same time it includes plans to find outside sources of funding that do not put additional pressures on the budget.

According to The Times of India, Roscosmos has recently faced problems as its satellites failed to reach orbit and a high-profile Mars mission crashed back down to Earth last year.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s elected president, announced that he wants to restore Russia’s space programme to its former glory.

Last year, speaking on the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s flight, he said: “Russia should not limit itself to the role of an international space ferryman.”

Vladimir Putin also noticed that piloted space missions should be revived by 2018, when the first flights are expected from Vostochny, a $13.5 billion (£8.6 billion) spaceport being built in Russia’s far east.

During the Cold War Russia and the Soviet Union were engaged in a long-term space race.

Russia actually managed to win the first round of the space race when it launched the first man to orbit the Earth, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961.

However, US astronauts Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Jr, fulfilled John F Kennedy’s promise to reach the Moon by the end of the decade, landing there on July 20, 1969, with Nasa’s Apollo 11.

It is known that The Soviet Union had two Moon programmes which were closed in the 1970s.

The US knew about them, but their existence was not revealed publicly until 1990.

After the Soviet Union broke up, Russia has co-operated with other countries on Mir and the International Space Station (ISS). It currently shoulders the burden of shuttling supplies to the ISS in Soyuz capsules.

But the situation in the Russia’s space inductry is far from being perfect.

Experts point to a continuing brain drain from the underfunded agency and a reliance on a vast but ultimately inefficient string of state subcontractors as two factors behind Russia’s growing lag behind NASA.

It seems that Russia’s new space plan acknowledges these problems by assigning the highest priority to technological development and modernisation.

The Soviet Union, the United States and China are the only countries so far to have launched manned space flights.

India’s space agency announced in 2010 that it intended to launch a human mission to the Moon by 2020.

Scientists have indicated that China could do the same by 2025.

Scientists believe that precious metals and Helium-3, a rare isotope that has potential for power generation, could be extracted from the Moon’s surface.

Roskosmos has also suggested that a base built on the Moon could be used as a launch pad for a flight to Mars.

However, Yury Karash, a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics, said that prestige of Russia’s space agency is unlikely to be restored with a symbolic flight to the Moon.

“Back in the 1960s the Soviet Union was competing head-to-head with the United States,” he said, according to The Telegraph.

“But it is hard to find a better way to hurt Russian prestige and emphasise Russian technological backwardness than by sending cosmonauts to the Moon around 2030, 60 years after Apollo,” he added.

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