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Fly me to the Moon! Plans for manned lunar missions from new cosmodrome unveiled

By Olga Gertcyk
04 May 2015

Details of ambitious Space programme show first Russians will land in 2029 with new Angara rocket taking crew into orbit.

The exciting project is certain to evoke memories of the 1960s when the Soviet Union and the United States battled to reach the Moon first. Picture: Andrey Sokolov

Russia plans to finally land a crew on the Moon as part of the ambitious space programme from the new multi-billion rouble cosmodrome.

Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has announced the first unmanned mission will leave from Vostochny in 2028 with cosmonauts touching down a year later.

The exciting project is certain to evoke memories of the 1960s when the Soviet Union and the United States battled to reach the Moon first. While America’s attempts were successful, the Soviet programme was mired in difficulty and eventually brought to an end, with focus shifted to space stations.

The 21st century return to the Moon comes as officials reveal the first lunar launches from the spaceport will be in an Angara-A5V rocket, in a move away from old Soyuz technology.

First used back in the 1960s, including during lunar exploration flights, the Soyuz spacecraft is now seen as outdated for modern space travel. All going well, the Angara-A5V rockets will take over and will likely be involved in the first Russian missions to the moon.

Meanwhile Russia is seeking cooperation with China as a partner to create a joint lunar research station that would orbit the Earth and allow easy access to the Moon’s surface. The Chinese government is also keen on creating its own facility by 2022 as it also eyes up a series of manned lunar missions.

Angara

All going well, the Angara-A5V rockets will take over and will likely be involved in the first Russian missions to the moon. Picture: Ministry of Defence

Mr Rogozin said: 'The question is being discussed by Roscosmos about bringing in China as a major partner in the project for a lunar research station. We have informed China about the possibility of our plans to create a national Russian orbital station. We have a deep understanding and mutual interests.'

Testing of the new rocket technology is on-going and, according to the draft Federal Space Programme for 2016-2025, there will be several lunar missions in 2021 and 2022 leading up to the landing of cosmonauts themselves.

It has been reported that Roscosmos presented Mr Putin a paper on the future of the Soyuz rocket, and plans for its replacement, during a meeting last month.

According to Kommersant newspaper, a source is quoted as saying: 'Soyuz spacecraft have been used at Baikonur since the 1960s, and as long as Russia will be extending its participation at the International Space Station until there is no need to create similar launch pads at Vostochny.

'It's a waste of time and would require revamping the infrastructure for new spacecraft and aims. Soyuz is our past and present, but we need to look at the future, that's why the choice was made in favour of Angara.'

Soyuz


Soyuz

Soyuz 7K-OK capsule at Leicester Space Centre. The launch of Soyuz-2 from Baikonur. Pictures: Timitrius, Roscosmos

The sprawling 551 sq km Vostochny complex, close to the Chinese border, will employ up to 25,000 people. Architects say the new community will be a 'one-of-its-kinds scientific and tourist space town with a unique design and beautiful landscape'.

There will be three launch pads - one for the Soyuz and two for Angara rockets – and the first launch, for a Soyuz-2 carrier rocket, has been pencilled in for December. But the complex has been marred by delays and of the 273 facilities that had to be ready for March 1, only 81 were operational.

The project is also engulfed in claims of financial corruption, with Russia’s Accounts Chamber uncovering the construction costs have been overstated by $180million.

While the Angara-A5V has been chosen for the first manned space mission, test flights involving the rocket are still ongoing. According to officials it will be capable of launching payloads of about 77,000lbs into orbit and will easily be able to take cosmonauts to the moon, and be involved in Mr Putin’s dream of building Russia’s own space station.

Vostochny


Vostochny


Vostochny

The sprawling 551 sq km Vostochny complex, close to the Chinese border, will employ up to 25,000 people. Architects say the new community will be a 'one-of-its-kinds scientific and tourist space town with a unique design and beautiful landscape'. Pictures: Dmitry Rogozin

Mr Komarov said the estimated cost of creating the new rocket will be about 60 billion roubles ($1.1billion).

The first successful manned Soyuz mission took place in October 1968, and despite its age now it is widely considered to be the safest and most cost-effective way to get into space.

Over the decades it has been used to carry cosmonauts to and from Soviet space stations and is now a transporter to and from the International Space Station. At least one Soyuz spacecraft is permanently docked there in case of an emergency.

Comments (1)

Well the way things have happened of late as regards rocket launches. I'd say, Your "Life is in their Hands"! Who'd be willing to risk it?
Jaker, Dundalk
11/05/2015 03:15
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