Russia Could Beat NASA Back to the Moon by 2019
Russia won the space race back in the 1960s when it sent Yuri Gagarin into orbit, but since then the country has not been in a rush with its space program. It has been over 40 years since a Russian craft landed on the Moon, but according to reports that will change in 2019.
Russia's Luna-25 is the first of three spacecrafts that will launch from Moscow in the near future. The craft will land near the lunar south pole, where it will collect data on the chemical composition of the Moon's surface.
The launch of Luna-25 was previously scheduled for this year, but the project experienced delays in 2016 that led to a pushback. Responding to reports that the mission might be pushed again to 2020, the manufacturer issued a statement to the Russian press to assure the world that the launch will happen on schedule.
Looking to the future, Russia has plans to launch lunar orbiter Luna-26 in 2021, and the Luna-27 landing station in 2022. By the 2030s, if all goes to plan, Russia could be joining that elite group of countries that have planted their flag into that big hunk of cheese.
Russia is also reportedly planning to spend the next 10 years building its own space station, if the International Space Station is terminated (the Trump administration just announced that it wants to end NASA funding for the station by 2025).
"If the decision is made to stop the work of the ISS, a Russian station may be set up…It is planned to include five modules," said General Designer of Russia’s Manned Programs Yevgeny Mikrin at the Academic Space Conference in Moscow this week. The station will be a fraction of the size of the ISS and will be able to house three astronauts.