Leaked doc reveals Russian plans for manned bases on Moon, Mars

A draft of the Russian space exploration strategy from now up through 2050 has been leaked by Russia's Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, and it includes plans for moon landings, manned Mars bases, and gigantic advanced orbital stations for research and tourism.

By about 2018, Russia hopes to have completely modernized their space launch operations. The old Baikonur cosmodrome will be replaced by a new facility in Vostochny (in Eastern Russia), and it'll being launching a new rocket called Angara, with a capsule that seats six. Testing on Angara will start as early as 2013, with the Soyuz replacement scheduled for its first test launch by 2015. Historically, Russia has been fine with just making the vehicles themselves, but by 2020, they want to be making all of the components (like electronics and stuff) domestically as well.

Once this new launch system is up and running, the next step will be a high-latitude permanent space station, in the 2020-2030 timeframe, which neatly steps in after the decommissioning of the ISS. Apparently, this station will "make it possible to more effectively study Russian territory and to search for mineral deposits." Mmmhmm. In the meantime, Roscosmos will also have a lunar orbital station in the works by 2025, with manned lunar landings by 2029, 60 years after Apollo 11. The lunar program will continue to expand through 2050, culminating in a permanently manned lunar base and "initial exploitation of the Moon's natural resources."

Mars will be explored in tandem with the Moon, between 2035 and 2050. Following some robotic probes and a manned exploration mission, a temporary manned research base will be expanded into a permanent manned base, followed by "initial exploitation of Mars' natural resources." I'm sensing a theme here. Assuming enough natural resources are present, 2050 should see the deployment of industrial production facilities and initial colonization.

Russia's other plans include sending probes to Venus and Jupiter, providing 95% of domestic satellite services by 2030, and doing something about the space junk problem. There are mentions of a "space shuttle" and "advanced orbital stations" that look more like the Death Star than the ISS, but we have to keep in mind that 2050 is a long way off, and Roscosmos has nothing to lose by being wildly (and unrealistically) optimistic. Even getting Angara and the new crew capsule to work reliably and cost effectively will be a major step for Russia, and it seems like simply from a financial perspective, no one country is going to be able to fund large space stations, much less permanent lunar bases or Mars bases, without a significant amount of international cooperation.

Ria Novosti, via Wired

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