redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Russia is reportedly planning to construct a manned colony on the moon by the year 2030, and could take the first steps towards establishing a base of operations on the lunar surface within the next two years.
FoxNews.com, citing reports published Thursday by the Russian-language newspaper Izvestia, said that the nation plans to be prepared to send manned missions to orbit the moon by the year 2028.
During the final stages of that program, humans would be sent to the lunar surface in order to build an infrastructure that would be used by a permanent base of operations. The first stage of the project would cost approximately 28.5 billion rubles, or $815.8 million, and the country is hoping to gain the support of private-sector investors.
A report on the program, which was prepared by the Russian Academy of Sciences, Roscosmos and Moscow State University and referenced by RIA Novosti, said that the moon was “a space object for the future exploration by terrestrial civilization, and a geopolitical competition for the Moon’s natural resources may begin in the 21st century.”
The Russian media outlet went on to say that the officials behind the moon colonization mission are planning several three- to four-year projects over the next 16 years. The first leg of the project will focus on analyzing the physical and chemical composition of the future home of the base, the moon’s south pole.
The first four of those missions will take place between 2016 and 2025, said Lee Moran of the New York Daily News. Afterwards, round trips have been scheduled for 2028 to 2030, and a manned exploration mission is set for the following decade. The main purpose of the manned lunar operations will be to extract minerals such as aluminum, iron and titanium, which were discovered by previous moon missions.
“The program also envisages building a space- and Earth-monitoring observatory on the Moon,” said Moscow Daily Times reporter Anna Dolgov. “While the program envisages international cooperation on the project, it stresses that the ‘independence of the national lunar program must be ensured regardless of the conditions and the extent of the participation in it by foreign partners.’”
“Lunar resources may present a ‘treasure-trove’ of rare and valuable minerals of substantial strategic importance, according to NASA, but the concentration and the distribution of those elements remain uncertain,” she added. “The Moon can also be used as a launchpad for future missions into deep space, said the research chief of the Institute of Space Policy, Ivan Moiseyev, Izvestia reported.”
The announcement comes a little over a month after NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and the US space agency said that it would be suspending some space-related contracts with Russia in the wake of unrest in the Ukraine. However, Bolden maintained that his agency would continue to work alongside their Russian colleagues on the International Space Station.