In a recent statement by the Russian Federal Space Agency, the announcement was made that Russia hopes to have a lunar colony established by the year 2040.
A press release was published by Roscomos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, on Wednesday 28 November, stating that the establishment of a moon base was the agency’s top priority. In conjunction with this, NASA announced that it intends to have a continuous human presence on the Moon within the next ten years.
Both agencies are looking to send a human-crewed craft to the Moon as soon as possible and it will surely be a race to see who gets there first. It would seem that the space race is back on, only now astronauts have a more specific target.
“Moon exploration issues are now heading the agenda of our Space Council,” said Alexander Sergeyev, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “The question is really serious. We understand our limited resources. The geopolitical situation is not conducive to attracting these resources. Therefore, it is very important to choose our strategy. There are many different opinions that are the driving force – projects that can rally society and the scientific community, or is it something scientifically disruptive. The moon can be a very important object, where all this will be.”
Russia will attempt to achieve the goal of lunar colonisation in three steps:
- firstly, it will launch an orbital station;
- from there the next step will be a manned mission to the Moon’s surface;
- and finally, a permanent base will be constructed.
“On the one hand, there are financial and economic problems in the industry, on the other hand, we are on the threshold of an important five-year plan – the transition to new space technology, ” states Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of the Roscosmos Corporation.
There’s also a tense geopolitical climate to consider before attempting to claim lunar soil.
On the other side of the world, the US doesn’t see the Moon as a goal so much as it does a stepping stone. The ultimate goal for NASA would be a Martian colony instead.
NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, told The Hill: “Right now we’re building a space station, we call it ‘Gateway,’ that’s going to be in orbit around the moon — think of it as a reusable command module where we can have a human presence in orbit around the moon. From there we want reusable landers that go back and forth to the surface of the moon. We think we can achieve this in about 10 years, the idea being to prove the capability, retire the risk, prove the human physiology and then go on to Mars.”
Who knows? In a few years time we could be watching the Moon landing live on TV again, only this time it will have a greater sense of permanence and the addition of Twitter to cover it.