The West fears Russia is poised to invade Ukraine, but it seems the Kremlin has a bigger conquest in its sights – the Moon.
Moscow today set out plans to conquer and colonise space, including a permanent manned moon base.
Deputy premier Dmitry Rogozin said: ‘We are coming to the moon forever.’
His comments came as President Vladimir Putin toured the Cosmonautics Memorial Museum in Moscow. On Saturday, Russia celebrates Cosmonaut Day marking Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering flight into space on April 12, 1961.
In an article in the government’s own newspaper headlined ‘Russian Space’, he spoke of targeting Mars and other ‘space objects’ as future priorities.
‘Flights to Mars and asteroids in our view do not contradict exploration of the moon, but in many senses imply this process.’
He wrote of ‘colonisation of the moon and near-moon space’.
In the next 50 years, manned flights are unlikely beyond ‘the space between Venus and Mars’.
But ‘it is quite possible to speak about exploration of Mars, flights to asteroids and flights to Mars’.
The essential first step as a base for research and experiments was the moon, said Rogozin, who is in overall charge of Russia’s space and defence industries, and was recently targeted for EU and US sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis.
‘The moon is not an intermediate point in the race,’ he wrote in official daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta, conjuring an impression of a new space race with America.
‘It is a separate, even a self-contained goal.
‘It would hardly be rational to make some ten or 20 flights to the moon, and then wind it all up and fly to the Mars or some asteroids.
‘This process has the beginning, but has no end. We are coming to the moon forever.’
Currently, Russia has plans to launch three lunar spacecraft – two to the surface and one to orbit – by the end of the decade.
The first mission, the long-delayed Luna-25, is slated for launch in 2016, to research the moon’s south pole.
The next two missions will include an orbiter to monitor the moon in 2018, and a year later a polar lander with a drill will search for water ice.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail