Russia celebrated its annual Cosmonautics Day on Tuesday, Apr. 12, that marked this year the 55th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic spaceflight. The celebrations were a great occasion for Russian officials to lay out future long-term space exploration plans directed towards making the country a real leader of space faring nations.
Fifty five years ago a Vostok spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, carrying the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. It was the starting point of a human spaceflight era. As Russia looks back to this historic event, the government plans another pioneering steps in space.
The head of the Roscosmos State Corporation, Igor Komarov has disclosed the plans to set up bases on the Moon and on Mars in the next 50 years.
"I think we are looking at a lot of progress to be made in the next 55 years, and a lot of exciting developments. I think we will see a mission to Mars, and I think that Russia together with its partners in other countries will set up an orbital station on Mars. I’m sure there will also be a lot of research activity on the Moon, including the creation of a lunar base and a lunar orbital station. By the way, we are already discussing such plans with our partners in NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA)," Komarov told RT TV news channel.
This statement is in accordance with the Federal Space Program for 2016-2025 which envisages laying the necessary groundwork for full-scale Moon exploration after 2025 and manned lunar landing by 2030.
Komarov underlined the importance of international cooperation to achieve these ambitious goals. He noted that Russia and the U.S. need to maintain friendly relations regarding the work at the International Space Station despite the current political crisis.
“Space is a realm we can only explore through joint effort," he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also highlighted the importance of joint international efforts regarding space issues. On the Cosmonautics Day he participated in the video linkup with the International Space Station (ISS), at the newly-built Vostochny Space Launch Center.
“Let me wish success to everybody working in orbit right now. I would like to note that we are pleased to see and we attach great importance to the fact that, despite any difficulties that we face back here on Earth, people in space work shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, and help each other tackle the most important challenges facing not only their own countries but the entire humankind. This is a very important aspect of our cooperation with the United States and other countries as well,” Putin said.
Russia will participate in the ISS through 2024, when the country will start works to create its own station based on Russian modules.
Besides developing its own orbital laboratory, Russia also disclosed plans of building a next-generation reusable spacecraft, called Federation, to replace the Soyuz family. The first unmanned launch of this craft is scheduled for 2021, while its first crewed mission to ISS is planned for 2023. The project, overseen by Russian manufacturer of spacecraft RKK Energia, is currently in its early stages.
“The stage of developing the technical documentation is currently underway and should be finished in June. After this, one more contract will need to be signed, which will allow for the work to begin on preparing the ships equipment and programming,” said Yevgeny Mikrin of RKK Energia.