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Russia announces lunar mission plan

By Ren Qi in Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-21 09:11
Yevgeny Mikrin , first deputy CEO of Energia Space Rocket Corporation in Moscow, Russia on Oct 2, 2017. [Photo/IC]

Russia has announced to send its cosmonauts to land on the moon in 12 years and a woman is likely to head the mission, according to the country's manned space program developer and contractor.

Yevgeny Mikrin, first deputy CEO of Energia Space Rocket Corporation, said on Monday that Russia will send cosmonauts for the first time to touch the moon's surface in a 14-day mission after 2030.

Mikrin, also the chief designer of the company, made the presentation at a conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the International Space Station.

He said the road map of the lunar program suggests that the first crews will be landing on the moon's surface from a habitable lunar orbiter. The orbiter is planned to be created using the technology developed for the Russian segment of the space station.

Mikrin indicates the period of 2030-2035 as the time frame for constructing the lunar orbiter. The cosmonauts are set to make the first landing on the moon for a 14-day stay.

The road map envisages three stages, according to the plan.

In the first stage, to last through 2025, there are plans to test all the technologies on the ISS, develop a basic module of a near-moon station, test the promising Federatsiya (Federation) manned spacecraft, make unmanned flights around the moon aboard the Federatsiya and explore the moon with the help of automated probes.

The lunar orbital outpost may be built by using elements of the Russian segment of the ISS, in particular, the nodal module, the manned spacecraft and the research-energy module, which are expected to be docked to the space station by 2022.

Lunar takeoff and landing and cargo modules will be attached to the orbiter for landing on the moon's surface.

The second stage, to last from 2025 to 2035, envisages testing the means of access to the moon's surface, performing first manned flights to the moon's surface, and creating and placing the first elements of the habitable base on the moon.

At the third stage after 2035, the construction of a fully habitable lunar base will be completed. Also after 2035, the single system of manned and automated probes to explore the moon are expected to be created, Mikrin said.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, said a woman may be selected to head the mission.

"We don't have a gendered approach. We want professionalism. I do not rule out anything. It is very likely that a woman will head the mission," Rogozin said.

He noted that professionalism and personal qualities are the most important factors for cosmonauts.

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