The United States has proposed the construction of a lunar orbit station and has asked Russia to participate in the venture. However, Russia has held off committing to the project until the concept for its national Moon exploration is completed. The concept is expected to be ready by March this year. Russia believes that its Moon program will act as an alternative to the U.S. project and further space exploration activities of the international scientific community.
“Any movement toward the Moon is so expensive and complicated that it hardly can be done without international cooperation. So far in the world, with the exception of the U.S. proposal to create a lunar-orbit station, there are no well-developed programs that other countries could carry out. We intend to offer Russian vision that could be discussed with foreign partners”, Anatoly Petrukovich, Director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said to Sputnik News.
Meanwhile, Russia’s national space agency Roscosmos has already launched a project to design the concept of a brand new transportation system for the manned lunar program. The initial concept is said to be based on sending a spacecraft from the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS) to the Moon.
“Work has begun to design the concept of a transport system involving modification of a Soyuz-MS spacecraft for missions to the Earth’s natural satellite… The transportation module of the new system would include the special modification of the Soyuz-MS spacecraft and a booster, which are to be delivered to the ISS atop Soyuz-2.1a carrier rockets in two launches. The transportation module will be assembled in space under the control of the Russian crew of the ISS,” an anonymous source from the space industry said to TASS.
Roscosmos is also developing a new carrier rocket C that is expected to be used in the Yenisei super-heavy launch vehicle and subsequently in the upcoming lunar missions. The draft design of Soyuz-7 Volga is proposed to be finished by the end of this year. The new carrier rocket will be using RD-180 engines.
Russia plans on implementing its moon exploration program in multiple stages by the year 2040. Last year, the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences held a meeting with the head of Roscosmos to discuss the overall plan.
“The goal of Moon exploration programs is to protect national interests on the new space frontier. The humanity’s interest in Moon exploration is first of all linked with the fact that unique areas were found there that have favorable conditions for building lunar bases. The Moon exploration program will be implemented in several stages by 2040,” a press service stated (Dailyhunt).
In the first stage that lasts till 2025, the relevant technologies will be tested aboard the ISS. This includes the development of a basic module of a Moon orbiting station, testing the spacecraft that will make the Moon landing, and making unmanned flights around the Moon.
The second stage lasts between 2025 and 2035 and will primarily be focused on conducting the first manned flights to the lunar surface and setting up the basic necessities of building a moon base. The third stage begins in 2035 and will be aimed at creating a full-fledged habitable base on the moon.