Generally if you are a country, and the Russians arrive at your doorstep, it’s bad news. As Moldova, Georgia and nor Ukraine have learnt, the Russians have the tendency to arrive, and then never leave. But now it seems that expanding his territory into neighbouring countries is not enough for the Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, rather his government wants to expand into space too.
Roscosmos plans the construction of a manned base on the Moon by 2030
Under a new plan announced by Russian state media yesterday, the country plans to massively expand its space operations over the next 15 years. According to the ITAR-TASS press service, Russian space agency Roscosmos plans to begin the exploration of the Moon and the construction of a permanent manned base on its surface by 2030. The head of Roscosmos, Oleg Ostapenko stated:
“At the end of the next decade, we plan to complete tests of a super-heavy-class carries rocket and begin full-scale exploration of the Moon, [...] By that time, based on the results of lunar surface exploration by unmanned space probes, we will designate most promising places for lunar expeditions and lunar bases,"
In order to achieve this, the country is working on its own indigenously built super-heavy launch system. This new rocket would presumably be in similar capacity to other rockets in its category being built in the US, including NASA’s SLS and SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. The Moon exploration program itself will be carried out primarily within the 2016-2025 period, according to current projections.
While the US got there first, do they really own the moon?
This announcement comes in the face of an increasingly belligerent Russian space agency, which has threatened in the past to stop cooperating with NASA on the ISS project due to geopolitical tensions. Should Russians make it back to the Moon before the US (or China) and build a base, the political issues could become more pressing. While the US got there first, do they really own the moon? Or is it something closer to Antarctica where nobody owns any region outside their base limits?
Whatever happens, control of the Moon in the end will fall not to who gets there (be they first, second or third to arrive) but rather whoever can support a base or colony for a long period of time.
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