Russia plans to organize a permanent base on the moon rather than leave it after several successful missions, the Russian deputy defense minister in charge of defense and space industries said. "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 twenty flights to the moon, and then wind it all up and fly to the Mars or some asteroids.
This process has the beginning, but has no end: we are going to come to the moon forever," Dmitry Rogozin said in an article to be published by the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Friday. A mission to the Moon has become one of Russia's top space priorities.
Russian Space Agency Roscosmos said earlier this week it had launched a project to design a spacecraft suitable for moon missions and a super-heavy carrier rocket to deliver it there.
Russia plans to launch three lunar spacecraft - two to surface and one to orbit - by the end of the decade.
++ Russian Federal Space Agency is elaborating Moon exploration program
The first mission, the long-delayed Luna-25, is slated to launch in 2016 and land at the moon's south pole.
The next two missions will include an orbiter to monitor the moon in 2018 and a polar lander with a drill to search for water ice in 2019.
By 2040, Russia plans to create a lunar base for long-term missions to the Earth's natural satellite. Rogozin said that the moon is the only realistic source to obtain water, minerals and other resources for future space missions, as well as a suitable platform for testing new space technologies. He also announced Russia's plans to engage in search and exploration of natural resources in our solar system and beyond.
"We should not be afraid to dream, to raise the bar as high as possible for our future development. Russia has everything needed for a new breakthrough in space research. All we need is to learn how to combine idealism and pragmatism and how to properly organize our business," Rogozin said.
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Disclosures from a NASA employee
For 34 years, Clark C. McClelland was employed by NASA. After his retirement, he chose to tell.