July 20, 2012
Russia Planning Manned Moon Landings By 2018
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Despite a string of failed mission launches, equipment losses, and launch setbacks over the past year, Russia is looking to restore its integrity by developing a manned spacecraft that will have humans stepping foot on the Moon again for the first time in more than 40 years.
In its attempt to return to the moon, the Russian space agency Roskosmos said it will begin testing launches of manned spacecrafts in 2015. Scientists also plan to develop methods for landing and launching from the lunar surface, inter-orbital tow trucks, and a special craft for technical maintenance of its space vehicles.
Exploration of the Moon is an integral part of Russia´s space exploration strategy through 2030. If funding can be secured, Russia also plans to build a scientific base on the lunar surface, noted Igor Marinin, chief editor of the News of Cosmonautics magazine.
“Recently large water reserves have been discovered on the Moon which means that we don´t need to take water to the Moon from the Earth,” said Marinin. “It is possible to produce energy, oxygen and chemical substances which serve as fuel components right on the Moon. This makes the lunar exploration much cheaper than it was regarded in the 1970-s.
“Lunar exploration is a natural step for our country where cosmonautics has always been one of the driving forces of the national technical development, together with the nuclear industry,” he added.
Russia is looking ahead by developing joint ventures with other countries to make the vision a reality. It had earlier been in talks with officials from the European Space Agency and NASA, but now it has turned to India and China as more promising partners, said Sergey Pukhov, chief editor of the Aviapanorama magazine.
He noted that Russia´s cooperation with India and China shows great potential. “Besides that we have a space program on the creation of a promising transportation space system on which our machine-building companies are working now,” he added.
In 1967, an agreement was signed on an intergovernmental level that set international principles of space explorations which included the exploration of the Moon and other celestial bodies. Under the agreement, no country can appropriate any territories on other planets and satellites. It also bans nuclear weapons testing and the establishment of military bases on the lunar surface.
But if Russia´s plans deliver, in the not to distant future, the Moon has chances to become not only a space object for intensive international cooperation but also the only celestial body in the solar system which has life and is free from conflicts.