Russia planning lunar base for a dozen astronauts

22 Jun 2016

Russia’s thirst for a colonisation of the moon has resurfaced, with its plans for a lunar base, housing 12 astronauts, recently revealed.

Roscosmos may be down on funding and falling way behind NASA after suffering a long ‘space race’ hangover, but it’s still got its eyes on big prizes.

Well, big prize, singular. The 1960s dream of a lunar base is back on, as Russian officials welcome tenders for the project for the mid-2020s.

Currently in its very early stages, planning for the base looks like a 30-day excursion for an initial handful of astronauts.

Newsweek reports it is designed to sit on the moon’s surface, though underground facilities and radiation shelters are also being incorporated into the plans.

The colonisation of the moon will start with identifying a perfect spot where crewed and cargo spaceships can land safely, a spokeswoman said.

The location for the base is as yet unconfirmed, though the south pole of the moon seems to be the primary target.

“At the initial stage, the moon base will be manned by no more than two-to-four people, with their number later rising to 10 to 12 people,” Olga Zharova of the TsNIIMash machine-building institute, said.

Last December, the Russian space agency’s 10-year budget was cut for a third time, with the 2015-25 funding of $22.5bn less than half the original projected figure.

Last month, Russia’s Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin said “Russia will never catch up to the United States in the space race”, quite the statement to make.

“Our space industry has fallen behind the Americans ninefold. All of our ambitious projects require us to up productivity 150pc – and even if we manage that, we will still never catch up with them,” Rogozin said.

Elsewhere, Roscosmos is set to sign a deal with the European Space Agency to partner up for the Bion satellite programme.

Bion is a series of Russia satellites used to study radiation and zero-gravity effects on living organisms.

Moon image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic