Decades after the end of the space race, Russia is planning to ramp back up its lunar missions with a crewed shuttle headed for the moon by 2030.
Announcing the 15-year target yesterday, Russia’s Roscosmos space agency spoke of a three-stage plan to bring humans up to our “permanent outpost” for the 21st century.
The maiden flight of the new mission will be in 2021, Roscosmos will then dock a shuttle with the International Space Station two years later, before sending a uncrewed shuttle to the moon in 2025.
“A manned flight to the moon and lunar landing is planned for 2029,” said Vladimir Solntsev, the head of Roscosmos.
Earlier this month, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos were revealed to be joining forces for this mission, with news that Luna 25 will be the name of the mission to land a research vessel on the south pole of the moon.
Two weeks ago, Prof Igor Mitrofanov of the Space Research Institute of Moscow, said: “We have to go to the moon. The 21st century will be the century when it will be the permanent outpost of human civilisation, and our country has to participate in this process.”
Roscosmos is currently researching the potential for all-female crews up in space, with six Russian women currently taking part in an intensive Luna simulation to investigate the physical and psychological impact that any mission might have.
This all comes decades after the US left Russia for dust in the space race. But now, with NASA firmly fixated on Mars and beyond, Roscosmos is ramping back up its lunar plans.
Of course, there are other agencies eyeing the moon, too, with China announcing plans a few weeks ago to send the first probe to the dark side of the moon in a bid to improve radio signals for astronomers.
Moon image via Shutterstock