Russia wants to send a team of cosmonauts to the moon by 2030, 60 years after Neil Armstrong’s Apollo mission beat them to it, The Telegraph reports.A spacecraft will “conduct a demonstrative manned circumlunar test flight with the subsequent landing of cosmonauts on [the Moon’s] surface and their return to Earth” by 2030, according to a leaked strategy document from Russia’s space agency, Roskosmos.
While plans to build permanent Russian bases on the moon were leaked last month, this is the first time Russia has set a deadline for a manned lunar mission since the end of the space race in the 1970s.
“The goal of the strategy is to ensure that the Russian space industry maintains its world-level standards and solidifies its position among the top three space powers,” Russian newspaper Kommersant said, citing the text of the document, which also said Russia must increase its share of the global space market from 0.5 per cent in 2011 to 10 per cent by 2030.
Plans to send cosmonauts to the Moon could help revive Russia’s faltering space programme, which has seen a series of setbacks, like satellites crashes, last year and the failure of its Mars probe in January. Russian space expeditions currently mainly consist of transporting supplies to and helping to man the International Space Station (ISS). “Russia should not limit itself to the role of an international space ferryman,” Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin told the press.
Not everyone is impressed by the announcement. “…it is hard to find a better way to hurt Russian prestige and emphasise Russian technological backwardness than by sending cosmonauts to the Moon around 2030, 60 years after Apollo,” Yury Karash, a member of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics, told The Telegraph.
While Russia launched the first man to orbit the Earth, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Jr, beat the cosmonauts to a moon landing on July 20, 1969, with NASA’s Apollo 11. The Soviet Union subsequently cancelled its two lunar programmes.
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