⇧ [VIDÉO] You may also like this partner content (after ad)
According to the Russian news agency TASS, Vladimir Putin told an award ceremony for cosmonauts, which took place on Tuesday at the Vostochny launch base, that Russia would “restore its lunar program.” In other words, it is about finishing the construction of the Luna-25 lunar lander, which according to the Russian president should be operational in the third quarter of 2022. If Luna-25 blasts off as planned in August, it will become the first spacecraft Russian spacecraft to return to the Moon since 1976.
Luna-25, which will serve primarily as a technology demonstration, is the first in a series of missions planned by Russia, which will serve to lay the groundwork for a future lunar research station. The main objective of this first unmanned mission is to validate the landing technique, the thermal protection system and the robotic arm of the device, as well as the communication systems with the Earth. The spacecraft is expected to land near the lunar South Pole, to examine regolith properties in this relatively poorly understood region.
« We must successfully meet the challenges of space exploration Putin said during his visit to the Vostochny Cosmodrome, report it Moscow Times. He also told reporters that Russia was busy developing its “next-generation spacecraft” and continuing to do research on nuclear propulsion, an area in which he said Russia has a clear advantage. Let us remember that Russia has also signed a cooperation agreement with China for the development of a joint lunar research station.
The European Space Agency withdraws from the project
It seems that the war in Ukraine is not a permanent concern for the Russian president, who also assures that his country is not far behind in the conquest of space. With conflicts ongoing for more than a month and a half, Putin says Russia is ready to return to the moon in just about four months. Will Russia succeed in achieving its goal? Given the current geopolitical context, nothing is less certain: the country must now face numerous sanctions from its international partners.
In a press release dated April 13, the European Space Agency, which developed the robotic arm and navigation camera for the Russian lander, announced that it was suspending activities carried out in cooperation with Russia under the Luna-25, Luna-26 and Luna-27. ” As with the ExoMars mission, the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the resulting sanctions constitute a fundamental change of circumstances and make it impossible for ESA to carry out the planned cooperation for lunar exploration purposes. “, specifies the document. As a reminder, the ExoMars mission, the result of a collaboration between ESA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, should have been launched in September.
« We deeply regret the loss of life and the tragic consequences of the aggression against Ukraine. declared the ESA. in a statement last month. The European agency is now working to quickly find alternatives to Russian rockets for its future space missions; in particular, it is examining the possibility of using the Ariane 6 launcher. Roscosmos has withdrawn all its staff from the Guiana Space Center and all missions scheduled to launch with the Soyuz rocket have been suspended, in particular the Galileo M10 and Galileo M11 , the Euclid Space Telescope, and the EarthCare Observation Satellite. The ExoMars rover would launch with a Proton rocket, a Russian-made heavy launcher.
Operations aboard the International Space Station, which continues to operate normally, although it currently has three Russian engineers on its crew, remains the only link between the Russian space program and the rest of the world.
An ambitious program in a difficult geopolitical context
The schedule announced by Russia therefore seems very ambitious, especially since the Luna-25 mission has already been postponed many times due to various problems in the design of the machine, linked to difficulties in the supply of components. The launch date was initially scheduled for 2016, before being pushed back to 2019 and then to 2021. Luna-25 is scheduled to launch on August 22.
According to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, the president stressed that Russia will carry out all its plans in the space sector, “despite attempts from abroad to prevent progress.” Similarly, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin told TASS that the space agency “would withstand sanctions with minimal damage, because it was prepared for them.”
The Luna-26 mission, which aims to map the landing sites of subsequent missions from polar orbit, is scheduled for 2024. Luna-27 will be used to explore the lunar soil more deeply and collect data on the exosphere; it is scheduled for 2025. Luna-28, which aims to bring lunar soil samples back to Earth, is scheduled for 2027-2028. The latter should embark a mini rover weighing less than 100 kg, equipped with various scientific instruments that allow geological investigations to be carried out. Finally, the Luna-29 mission is scheduled to place a more sophisticated rover on our satellite before 2030. The start of the deployment of the Sino-Russian lunar station is scheduled for 2035.