Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos is planning to send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2015, with the spacecraft set to launch from Russia’s new cosmodrome that will be built in the far east of the country.
The head of Roscosmos Vladimir Popovkin told Russian news agencies this morning that the rocket booster, when it launches in 2015, will be equipped with a 500kg exploration vehicle. This vehicle will carry up to 25kg of scientific equipment that will search for water on the moon’s surface and take soil samples.
Popovkin said the spacecraft will launch from Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome. President Vladimir Putin is to invest US$1bn to help build the new launch pad, which will be located in Russia’s Amur region.
According to a report on Ria Novosti, Popovkin said the spacecraft, known as Luna-Glob, will lift off after several test launches, with its scientific equipment payload including equipment for astrophysics experiments and plasma sensors to study high-energy cosmic rays.
Russia’s space programme has been hit with setbacks in recent years, including the crash landing in the Indian Ocean in early 2012 of the Phobos-Grunt probe, which had been launched in November 2011 to explore Phobos, of Mars’ moons.