On January 19, 2012, Roscosmos and the head of the Russian Space Agency began talking to the United States and Europe about the stuff dreams are made of… a manned research base on the Moon. The agency’s chief, Vladimir Popovkin, led off the discussion with officials from NASA and the European Space Agency for a permanent facility. “We don’t want man to just step on the Moon,” Popovkin told Vesti FM radio station, according to the Ria Novosti news agency. “Today, we know enough about it, we know that there is water in its polar areas … we are now discussing how to begin [the Moon's] exploration with NASA and the European Space Agency.”
But that’s not all. One giant leap for mankind often begins with one small step – or two. In this instance, Russia is planning to launch two unmanned missions to the Moon within the next 8 years. According to Popovkin, the plan is to either set up a stationary base on the lunar surface, or to put a working laboratory into orbit around it.
Don’t shoot these comments down just because they’ve come to light after a recent run of bad luck on behalf of Russia’s current space missions – most notably the doomed Mars probe Phobos-Grunt which crashed back to Earth following a malfunction. According to Fix News, “It was the latest mishap for Roscosmos and came after Russian president Dmitry Medvedev threatened to punish those responsible for previous space failures, which included the loss of satellites and botched launches.”
In the meantime, let’s focus on the positive contributions the Russians have made towards lunar exploration – in particular, the Luna missions which set many milestones. Of these, they were the first to successfully land a craft of the Moon, the first to photograph the far side, the first to achieve a soft landing and send back panoramic, close-up images, the first to become an artificial lunar satellite, the first to deploy rover missions and the first to return lunar soil samples which they shared with the international scientific community.
Russia? Keep talking… Spasiba for your contributions!
I love the idea of returning to the Moon, and the idea of going back there to stay I love even more. Having said that, I want to stress it must be done the right way. This has been back in the news lately because Newt Gingrich made a speech about it before his doomed Florida Republican presidential primary run.
What bugs me is that we’re talking about it in context of what Gingrich said; I’d rather we were talking about this on its own merits. There are reasons to go to the Moon, and reasons not to do it Newt’s way… all of which I went over in an interview on CBC radio’s Day 6 show with Brent Bambury that aired Saturday. The interview is archived on their site, and you can listen to it there. I was unusually lucid, IMO, and I think the points made were valid.
I was also interviewed on The Alonya Show, a TV news/opinion program on Russia TV:
I want to add to what I said on these two shows. In all this discussion, I wasn’t thinking about the idea of fuel depots. Instead of lobbing big heavy payloads all the way to the Moon with gigantic Saturn V-like rockets, you use smaller rockets to loft tanks of propellant into Earth orbit. Then you can use that smaller rocket to lift the astronauts to orbit, meet up with the tanks, install them, and off to the Moon they go! I don’t know if this saves in money, since it means lots of launches, but it does mean you can get to the Moon without having a huge rocket — one that as yet does not exist.
Anyway, the point is: it’s not fantasy, it’s not (haha) moonbat stuff, and it’s not even science fiction.
Well, check that: it is science fiction. For now. But realistically, we can do this. We have the ability. All we need is the will to do it.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk. — Garrison Keillor
Looks like Republican Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich might have some competition if he wants to be the first to build a base on the Moon. Last week, the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos announced plans to put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade with a lunar base as its next step. ...