Russia planning to send people to the moon as the first step towards a lunar base
Even as NASA and assorted groups are looking to send humans to Mars, others are looking a little closer to home. But only relatively speaking.
The Roscosmos Energia, the Russian Federation’s answer to NASA, announced that it is planning to send crews to the moon before 2030. And according to Business Insider, the European Space Agency wants to help.
The plan was initially announced back in 1997, but technical issues and general instabilities within Russia caused several delays. Based on reports from Tech Insider though, Roscosmos is already building the spacecraft it hopes to use.
To begin with, Russia is planning to send a robotic lander to the surface of the moon. The mission, dubbed Luna 25, is set for 2024. That mission would specifically be designed to scout the moon for a possible site of a future base.
The crewed mission is tentatively set for 2029 with Russia leading the way, and the ESA is hoping to send astronauts along. The Roscosmos would still be the lead agency, but the money the ESA could provide may be the difference between success and failure – or more accurately, the difference between the mission happening or not.
“We have an ambition to have European astronauts on the moon,” Bérengère Houdou, head of the lunar-exploration group at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Center, recently told BBC News (courtesy of Business Insider). “There are currently discussion at international level going on for broad cooperation on how to go back to the moon.”
The mission would be one major step on the path to creating a lunar base. That too, would likely be created in conjunction with the ESA.
Meanwhile, NASA is eyeing Mars – although it might not be the first to reach the Red Planet; the odds are currently in favor of SpaceX getting there first. It will likely do so with help from NASA though. Regardless, the end of the next decade is going to be very interesting for space exploration.