Russia is sending people to the Moon? Apparently, yes.
Russia has some grand plans to change the fact that it has been more than 40 years since any human has walked on the Moon. The first steps were already taken, as we could see from this week's Space and technology conference in Moscow, where the head of Roscosmos Energia said that they will fly humans to the Moon in 2029. Russia plans to land its first astronauts on the Moon before 2030, and the project is led by the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos Energia, in partnership with the European space agency (ESA). ESA made history in 2014 by landing the first spacecraft on a comet, so this cooperation could be of big significance in man's attempt to explore the Moon!.
The project is an extension of the 1970's research program of the Moon, so European and Russian space agencies plan to work together and create a permanent human settlement on Earth's closest neighbor. Top members of Russian end European agencies have voiced their support for the project, although the European agency's involvement is awaiting a final decision from EU ministers, expected next year.
The first stage of the joint undertaking, called Luna 27, is set to launch in 5 years time. The Russian federal space agency and the ESA hope to land the Luna 27 probe on the Moon's South pole, Aitken Basin, which is a huge impact crater on the hemisphere of the Moon that always faces away from the Earth, and it is also known as “the far side of the Moon”. The spacecraft's mission is to assess whether or not there is enough water and raw materials to make fuel and oxygen and therefore support human life during future missions. Parts of the South Pole are shielded from the heat of sun so water is collected and frozen on the surface which prompts scientists to say that it could be used as a potential resource for future missions.
The Russian space agency wants to set up a high tech lunar base with human habitats, science and tech labs, launch and landing surfaces and an astronomy observatory.
The Roscosmos projects to the Moon have an unlucky past since a series of rocket failures and explosions halted progress of any human-carrying mission. But all those attempts during history show us how serious Russians are in their intention to explore the Moon. While Europe and Russia have their eyes set on the Moon, NASA continues its quest for Mars exploration.