"We have to go to the Moon. The 21st Century will be the century when it will be the permanent outpost of human civilization, and our country has to participate in this process," said Prof Igor Mitrofanov, one of the lead scientists at the Space Research Institute in Moscow.
Russia has announced today that it intends to land its first cosmonauts on the moon by 2030. Europe has said that it will assist in the mission.
“A manned flight to the Moon and lunar landing is planned for 2029,” said Roscosmos Energia (Russia’s NASA).
Europe’s version of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) has recently landed a spacecraft on a comet, an historical first, and will be working closely with Roscosmos Energia on the moon-landing project.
“We have an ambition to have European astronauts on the Moon,” said Bérengère Houdou, head of the lunar exploration group at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre. “There are currently discussion at international level going on for broad cooperation on how to go back to the Moon.”
The announcement comes as part of an effort to revitalize interest in space travel, perhaps even restart the Great Space Race of the 1960s. Russia and Europe expressed a mutual desire to build a permanent base on the moon. Their effort to lead a team of cosmonauts is the first step towards this goal.
“We have to go to the Moon. The 21st Century will be the century when it will be the permanent outpost of human civilization, and our country has to participate in this process,” said Prof Igor Mitrofanov, one of the lead scientists at the Space Research Institute in Moscow.
By 2024, the Russian Luna 25, a lander, will touch down in the as-of-yet unexplored south pole of the moon to search for potential sites for future bases. It will determine if there is any water or other resources that could be of use.
“The south pole of the Moon is unlike anywhere we have been before,” said Dr. James Carpenter, ESA’s lead scientist on the project. “The environment is completely different, and due to the extreme cold there you could find large amounts of water-ice and other chemistry which is on the surface, and which we could access and use as rocket fuel or in life-support systems to support future human missions we think will go to these locations.”
The Luna 25 has been trying to get off the ground since 1997 but has encountered a number of roadblocks. Russia hopes that with European assistance, the mission will finally launch.
America, meanwhile, remains fixated on Mars.