Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured that Russia will continue with its lunar mission, which has been postponed several times. On the occasion of Cosmonautics Day, Putin has said that “despite the difficulties and attempts from abroad”, Russia “will implement all its plans” in relation to space, including “the lunar program”, according to statements addressed to the workers of the Vostochny cosmodrome collected by the state agency RIA Novosti.
Russia complies and returns an American astronaut from the International Space Station to Earth
Among these plans is the Luna-25 mission, which aims to investigate the south pole of the satellite and collect samples by launching a robotic vehicle that travels on its surface. Its launch was scheduled for October 2021, but was initially delayed to August 22, 2022 on the grounds that more time was needed to carry out additional tests on the ship’s equipment.
That Putin claims the conquest of the Moon in his speech is not accidental. The Moon is a symbol of victory for the US in the struggle it had with the USSR during the Cold War. The USSR had sent the first satellite into space, Sputnik in 1957. The USSR had sent first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. But the US won the lunar race with the Apollo program and the first moon landing of three astronauts on the satellite in 1969.
The Luna-25 mission would be the first in 46 years, heir to its Soviet predecessor Luna-24the third to collect samples from the lunar surface , which was launched in August 1976. Since then, Russia has not sent any missions to the satellite.
The unmanned spacecraft will have a mass spectrometer that will study the chemical composition of the lunar surface, a neutral and charged particle detector, a moondust detector and an infrared spectrometer, among other instruments.
In addition, Luna-25 will have a camera system to film the lunar surface during the landing and record lunar panoramas.
So far, Russia has not sent any cosmonauts to the Moon, but in mid-2019 Russia announced that it was resuming its lunar program and that it planned to send its first manned flight to the Moon in 2030 or 2031. Before that, several unmanned missions will follow the Moon. -26 and will prepare the ground by mapping the surface of the satellite.
In order to take its cosmonauts to the Moon, the Russian space industry has been working since 2009 on the construction of a new generation spacecraft with a capacity for six crew members.
Putin, in the context of the war in Ukraine and after abandoning international space programs in which he participated, is carrying out a vindication of the Russian space program and the space race carried out by the USSR.
The Russian president assured this Tuesday that “Russia has won the tough race for leadership in space in the past” and that that generation of Soviet cosmonauts “left examples of collaboration and will.”
Space alliance with Belarus
During his visit to the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Putin was accompanied by his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko. According to Russia, both countries plan to create together “a space infrastructure” that guarantees “independent access to space”, without these plans being further detailed at the moment.
Within this alliance, Putin has asked the Russian space agency Roskosmos to provide “space travel training” to a crew member chosen by Belarus and has announced that Belarusian companies, specialists and workers will participate in joint space programs.
“Changes in Russian legislation have already been approved by the State Duma, and the decision of the Federation Council should take place in the very near future and, of course, will be signed immediately, the new law will be signed by me.” Putin has said about the deal.
The future of the International Space Station, in the air
The war in Ukraine has wiped out years of cooperation between Russia, the United States and Europe on space research.
Russia withdrew its staff from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana and canceled Soyuz launches that were scheduled to put European satellites into orbit.
On March 17, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced the suspension of the ExoMars mission, one of the most ambitious joint projects between Russia and Europe. The director of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitri Rogozin, assured then that Russia would send its own expedition to the red planet.
On March 22, American astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov returned to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft capsule. Russia had come to joke in the middle of the war with the idea of leaving Vande Hei behind, although finally the three crew members returned from their mission without problems.
On April 2, Russia threatened to also cancel its cooperation on the ISS in the face of sanctions for the war in Ukraine. On the ISS there is a ‘Russian segment’ (the Zvezdá module) from which the orbits and trajectories of the entire complex are periodically corrected. In addition, that Russian sector serves as a docking port for the Soyuz ships that carry and bring personnel and cargo from Earth. It is not clear that the ISS can operate normally without the help of Russia.