Russia is developing a mega-rocket that will transport supplies to build a base on the moon, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister has revealed.
President Vladimir Putin wants work to begin on the new ‘super-heavy’ rocket which will ‘pave the way’ for a lunar research station.
It will enable the construction of a Russian base that will be both ‘visitable and inhabitable’, according to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.
‘On instructions from the president, which is being finalised technically, we are launching a super-heavy space rocket project, with quite different payload capabilities,’ he told experts at the space rocket corporation Energiya, TASS reports.
‘It will pave the way for implementing the idea of a research station on the Moon, visitable and inhabitable.’
TASS reports that the rocket project was given the nod in autumn 2014 but was postponed last year.
There was no mention of the scheme in the country’s federal space programme for 2016 to 2025, the state news agency added.
It comes after reports emerged that Russia is planning to land its first cosmonauts on the moon in 2031.
The bold claim was made by a Russian rocket firm boss, who said that the landing would be preceded by a series of unmanned flights starting in 2026.
The news follows recent reports that Russian space agency Roscosmos plans to build a moon base to house 12 cosmonauts.
The ambitious moon landing mission will kick off in 2026 with an unmanned flight to the moon followed by a take-off and landing module being launched into the moon’s orbit in 2027, RSC Energia CEO Vladimir Solntsev told Russian news agency TASS.
In 2029, a new spacecraft named Federation will fly to the moon’s orbit, he added.
‘In the 2030s, we set the task of a manned flight to the moon and in 2031 we plan landing on the moon,’ Mr Solntsev told TASS.
Russia is inviting Esa and Nasa to jointly develop a module for landing on the moon, Mr Solntsev said.
So far, only Nasa has managed to land humans on the moon.
During the course of the Apollo missions, 12 astronauts set foot on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1972.
In September, Russian space agency Roscosmos revealed that it had started a series of simulations in preparation for the country’s plans to permanently station 12 cosmonauts on the lunar surface.