Russia will establish a moon colony by 2040, the federal space agency announced.
According to officials, getting a human-crewed landing to set up a lunar base is the top priority.
The news comes just after NASA revealed it plans to take America back to the moon ‘to stay’ using private firms to run the business.
Rosmocos, the Russian space agency, said it will launch the strategy in three phases.
This will include launching an orbital station, then a manned mission and subsequently the construction of a permanent base.
A spokesperson said the agency had pinpointed ‘unique regions with favourable conditions for the construction of lunar bases’ using a satellite.
‘The implementation of the lunar program will be held in several stages until 2040.’
The announcement was made at a joint meeting of the Moscow-based Scientific and Technical Council of Roscosmos and the Space Council of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Officials say the goal of lunar programmes is to ensure national interests are fulfilled in space.
‘Moon exploration issues are now heading the agenda of our Space Council. The question is really serious’, said the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexander Sergeyev.
‘We understand our limited resources. The geopolitical situation is not conducive to attracting these resources.’
‘It’s impossible to solve earthly problems, not knowing where we are moving in the future,’ said Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of the Roscosmos State Corporation.
Just yesterday NASA revealed it also wants to return to the moon – and set up for good.
The space agency plans to work with nine private firms, ranging from small startups to giants like Lockheed Martin, to develop robotic landers and systems to mine the natural resources on the moon.
This will help develop the technology need for eventual manned missions, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine pledged to have a manned lunar base within a decade.
The first new lunar missions could blast off as early next year.
‘We’re building the next chapter of American exploration, returning to the moon – to stay,’ the space agency announced.
‘I think that it is possible we can have a presence on the moon with humans within a decade,’ said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
‘We’re going to utilize the resources of the moon, and take this all the way to Mars
Bridenstine, a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot and Oklahoma congressman tapped by President Donald Trump in April as NASA chief, said the plan was part of Trump’s Space Directive-1 policy.
‘Today’s announcement marks tangible progress in America’s return to the Moon’s surface to stay,’ he said.
He said future bases would be international, and that he hoped the US would lead the plans.
‘The innovation of America’s aerospace companies, wedded with our big goals in science and human exploration, are going to help us achieve amazing things on the Moon and feed forward to Mars.’
NASA plans to create a commercial marketplace called the Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program (CLIPS) to develop technology that will eventually establish a continuous Moon presence.
A maximum of $2.6bn is earmarked for the project, and NASA will also buy space on commercial robotic landers, along with other customers, to deliver payloads to the lunar surface.
THE NINE FIRMS WORKING ON NASA’S RETURN TO THE MOON
Astrobiotics’ Peregrine lander is one of the many in the running
Astrobotic Technology : The Pittsburgh-based firm was founded in 2008 by Carnegie Mellon professor Red Whittaker. It was among the many teams that participated in Google’s $20 million Lunar XPrize, which shut down this year without a winner.
Astrobiotic’s lunar lander, dubbed Peregrine, stands on four shock-absorbing legs and attaches to the launch vehicle via a standard clamp.
‘The Peregrine Lander precisely and safely delivers payloads to lunar orbit and the lunar surface on each mission,’ the firm says.
‘Payloads can be mounted above or below the decks, and can remain attached or deployed according to their needs.’
Deep Space Systems: The systems engineering company from Colorado is long been a subcontractor to NASA and other aerospace giants, including Lockheed Martin.
The firm develops everything from plans and interface control documents to ground software tools for missions. Deep Space Systems says it focuses on the ‘the design, development, integration, testing and operations of science and exploration spacecraft.’
Their lunar lander concept is a rover that appears to feature smaller scouting robots that can be deployed.
Draper: The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based laboratory is a not-for-profit research and development organization. Draper develops everything from autonomous systems and biomedical solutions to systems.
Notably, Drapers accomplishments include a device that measures cabin air on the International Space Station to check for volatile organic compounds.
The firm’s concept lander, dubbed Artemis-7, will sit on four mechanical legs to carry out sample collection and return.
Firefly Aerospace: Firefly showed off a concept for a commercial launch vehicle and a lunar lander.
While the firm hasn’t released much detail just yet, it appears to be a three-stage system upon which the lander sits at the very top.
Intuitive Machines: The Houston-based firm also unveiled a concept lander that looks much like R2D2.
The Nova-C lander is the key component of its Lunar Payload and Data Service plan. It’s capable of 24/7 data coverage, and can hold a payload of at least 85 kg.
The firm says it can land anywhere on the moon.
Lockheed Martin: The aerospace giant unveiled its McCandless Lunar Lander, named after late NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless.
Lockheed Martin named its lunar lander after late NASA astronaut, Bruce McCandless
It’s ‘capable of transporting large payloads weighing hundreds of kilograms – including stationary scientific instruments, deployable rovers, or even sample return vehicles – to the surface of the Moon,’ the firm says.
‘The lander uses a proven propulsive landing approach that relies upon on-board radars and a set of rocket thrusters firing 10 times a second to slow to just five mph before touching down.
‘Once on the lunar surface, the lander can provide power, communications and thermal management for sophisticated payloads.’
Masten Space Systems: Masten’s XL-1 is a ‘small, single use lander’ that can carry 100-kg payload.
‘The XL-1 is designed to offer a mission duration that is minimally sufficient to land on the lunar surface, transmit payload activation commands, and activate the payload release/deployment mechanism,’ the firm says.
Moon Express: Cape Canaveral-based Moon Express was previously pegged to develop a fleet of low-cost robotic spacecraft that can be assembled like Legos.
The initial spacecraft, known as MX-1E,is a similar size and shape to the R2D2 droid from Star Wars. It will hop across the lunar surface on its legs.
Last year, the firm said it hoped its ‘Harvest Moon’ expedition will take place by 2020, including the first commercial sample return mission, which also begins the business phase of lunar resource prospecting.
Orbit Beyond: The New Jersey firm unveiled a four-legged concept lander that could soon be used to deliver payloads to the moon. The firm has yet to reveal more details on the project.