Russia has just made an exciting announcement: Roscosmos, the country’s space agency, plans to launch a manned mission to the Moon in the next decade.
“A manned flight to the Moon and lunar landing is planned for 2029,” head of Roscosmos Energia Vladimir Solntsev announced at a space and technology conference which took place in Moscow this Tuesday.
However, at the moment, we only know a few details about this ambitious plan. It’s only known that Russia is building a new spacecraft for the mission, and its first scheduled flight is planned for 2021. Then, the uncrewed version of the spacecraft will be sent to the Moon in 2025, before it can finally take astronauts there four years later.
Russia’s Collaboration with Europe
Most probably, Russia will collaborate with the European Space Agency (ESA). In fact, the ESA and Roscosmos have been discussing the possibility to launch a joint mission to the Moon’s south pole, BBC News reported earlier this month. The final decision on the Europe’s participation in the mission is going to be taken at a meeting of ministers in late 2016, but the prospects are quite promising.
The mission, called Luna 27, involves sending a robotic lander to the unexplored area on the dark side of the Moon in 2020. It will be one of the series of missions aimed to prepare for the return of humans to the Moon, which will eventually lead to the establishment of a permanent lunar base.
“We have to go to the Moon. The 21st Century will be the century when it will be the permanent outpost of human civilization, and our country has to participate in this process,” said Prof Igor Mitrofanov, of the Space Research Institute in Moscow, who participates in the mission preparation.
Only time will show whether humans will indeed go to the Moon in 2029 or not. While it’s not the first time when Russia makes a similar announcement about a possible manned lunar mission, this time their claim seems to have a solid basis since there is a spacecraft in development.
In any case, the good thing here is that modern day space exploration involves different countries working together, unlike the space race of the 20th century, which was defined by the climate of hostile competitiveness. Let’s hope that these collaborative efforts will eventually benefit humanity and start a new chapter in space exploration and colonization.