Russia's plan to conquer the moon: Nation will send 12 cosmonauts to lunar surface ahead of creating a permanent base by 2030
Russia is building a new spacecraft specifically designed for the moon
It today announced that it will be send 12 cosmonauts to the surface
It is also is hoping to launch a lunar probe in 2024 to scout out locations
Nation will begin building a human colony on the moon in 2030, it said
Russia's plan to build a colony on the moon has begun taking shape.
Roscosmos, the country's space agency, today announced plans to permanently station 12 cosmonauts on the lunar surface.
The moon base will be used for research and mining of precious minerals - but some suggest it may also have a military purpose.
'At the initial stage, the moon base will be manned by no more than 2-4 people, with their number later rising to 10-12 people,' Olga Zharova from the Central Research Institute of Machine Building told Izvestia.
The base will be powered by a sub-surface energy station, near one of the moon's poles.
A fallout shelter will also be installed underground, helping to shield the crew from both radiation and any nuclear attacks.
Roscosmos has previously said it is hoping to launch a lunar probe in 2024 to scout out colony locations, before landing humans on the moon in 2030.
According to Russian news agency TASS, work has already begun on building the Luna 25 lander that will pave the way for human exploration.
Roscosmos is also developing the Angara-A5V heavy-lift carrier rocket to sent parts for a human base to the moon.
Overall, Russia will complete the moon mission using six separate launches of the upcoming Angara rocket.
Each launch will send a new module to the moon, creating the base piece by piece, in a similar way to how the ISS was put together.
Assembly of the moon base is expected to take more than ten years.
Russia's first manned flight to the moon could possibly be a year earlier, in 2029, according to the head of Russia's state-controlled Rocket and Space Corporation Energia.
Vladimir Solntsev, president of RSC Energia, which is 38 per cent owned by the Russian state, made the predictions at a space technology conference in Moscow in October.
Separately, Russian company Energia last month revealed draft plans for an 11.4 tonne reusable spacecraft that will take cargo and cosmonauts onto the lunar surface within five days.
The 'Ryvok' project was announced in May at the Human Space Exploration international conference in Korolev, near Moscow.
The shuttle will be sent on the ISS by Soyuz ships and Angara rockets.
Prior to the lunar mission, another launch to the space station would send an 'accelerator block' to act as fuel for Ryvok.
This makes the flight dramatically cheaper as instead of a needing a rocket, all that could be needed is a spacecraft and fuel to lift passengers to low-Earth orbit.
When returning from the near-moon orbit, Ryvok would open an 'umbrella' of 55 square meters for braking in the Earth atmosphere.
Currently Russia's Soyuz spacecraft, which are built by RSC Energia, are the only vehicles capable of sending humans into space.
Nasa has been relying upon the system to send its astronauts to the International Space Station along with regular supplies of cargo.
In a statement posted on the RSC Energia website, Mr Solntsev said: 'The high-priority line of activities for Russian manned programs in the next 10 to 20 years is lunar exploration.
'Russia develops a new-generation advanced transportation spacecraft, in the nearest future development of other elements of the lunar program will also begin.'
The new spacecraft, dubbed the Angara-A5V heavy-lift carrier rocket, is expected to be built using composites specifically designed for lunar missions.
Russia has never landed a human on the moon and plans to do so drawn up in the 1960s were never completed after Nasa's Apollo moon landings.
Instead, the country has concentrated on sending a series of unmanned probes to the lunar surface. However, it has not sent a spacecraft to the moon since the sample return mission Luna 24 in 1976.
However, the country's new effort to send cosmonauts to the moon could see it beating US in its attempts to return to the lunar surface.
Nasa had been planning to return humans to the lunar surface as part of its long-term plans to send astronauts to Mars.
However, the plans were scrapped in 2010 favour of landing on an asteroid in an announcement by US President Barack Obama.
Hit by major funding issues, a mission to the moon was seen as being a low priority although some officials have indicated Nasa may send future missions to orbit the dusty satellite.
A recent study funded by Nasa has, however, also suggested Nasa is still hopeful about establishing a human presence on the surface of the moon.
The Evolvable Lunar Architecture Plan outlined a cut price way of building a base on the moon for around $10 billion using private rockets and mining water ice from the poles.
The study, conducted by NexGen Space LLC, said it would be possible to land humans on the moon within the next five to seven years and establish a base within 19 years.
A number of former Nasa staff have also suggested that the space agency is quietly planning a mission to the moon as part of its build up to Mars.
However, Russia's ambitious plans to return to the moon could now trigger a new race to exploit the minerals and other resources on the lunar surface.
Earlier this year, the European Space Agency said it was interested in joining Russia's attempts to colonise the moon.
Esa and Roscosmos said they were working together to send a lander to the moon's south pole to look for water.
The Lunar 27 mission will launch in 2020 and its primary mission will be to look for deposits of water ice in craters on the surface, which could be used by future manned colonies on the moon.
Professor Igor Mitrofanov, one of the lead scientists on the project at the Space Research Institute in Moscow, told the BBC: 'We have to go to the Moon.
'The 21st Century will be the century when it will be the permanent outpost of human civilisation, and our country has to participate in this process.'
Quelle: Daily Mail