Russia says it is planning to build a permanent manned base on the moon in 2030 while the US has set its sights on Mars, the most habitable planet in our solar system after earth.
The European country is hoping to launch a lunar probe in 2024 to examine colony locations before its goes ahead with its plan to send and keep humans on the moon in 2030.
According to Russian news agency TASS, work has already begun on building the Luna 25 lander which will pave the way for human exploration.
Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, is also developing the Angara-A5V heavy-lift carrier rocket to sent parts, in six separate launches, for a human base to the moon.
The assembly of the moon base, which will continue over ten years, will start once the components are in place.
Moscow has previously said that it envisages the base to be permanent.
“The moon is not an intermediate point in the [space] race. It is a separate, even a self-contained goal. It would hardly be rational to make some ten or 20 flights to the moon, and then wind it all up and fly to the Mars or some asteroids,” Russian Deputy Premier Dmitry Rogoz wrote in an article in the government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta last year.
“This process has the beginning, but has no end. We are coming to the moon forever,” he wrote in the article.
Russia has never landed a human on the moon but has concentrated on sending a series of unmanned probes to the lunar surface.
Moscow’s new effort to send cosmonauts to the moon comes as the US is also seeking to return to the lunar surface as part of its long-term plans to send astronauts to Mars. A number of former Nasa staff have suggested that the space agency is planning a mission to the moon as part of its build-up to Mars.
Russia’s plans could trigger a new race between Moscow and Washington to exploit resources on the lunar surface.
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