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Russia plans 6 super-heavy rocket launches to Moon in 2035-2040

June 01, 2016, 17:01 UTC+3 MOSCOW

A super-heavy carrier rocket of the first stage is expected to be developed at the turn of 2035 to lift no less than 80 tonnes to a low near-Earth orbit

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© ITAR-TASS/Oleg Urusov

MOSCOW, June 1. /TASS/. Russia plans to carry out six super-heavy carrier rocket launches to the Moon in 2035-2040, a research institute of the state space corporation Roscosmos told TASS on Wednesday.

"A super-heavy carrier rocket of the first stage is expected to be developed at the turn of 2035 to lift no less than 80 tonnes to a low near-Earth orbit to accomplish the tasks of carrying out the one-launch injection of the manned spacecraft [Federatsiya] weighing about 20 tonnes into the orbit of the Moon’s artificial satellite [the near-Moon orbital station] and conducting six launches until 2040," the Central Research Institute of Machine-Building (TsNIIMash) told TASS.

Super-heavy carrier rocket

The need for a super-heavy rocket may emerge considering that the number of launches under the lunar manned flight program will increase after 2035, the institute said.

Also, a rocket of this type will be needed for the launch of civilian and military satellites. However, before 2035, this rocket type won’t be needed for Russian cosmonautics and no need will emerge for the use of the US-made SLS (the Space Launch System), a super-heavy rocket being developed by NASA, with its first launch scheduled for 2018, TsNIIMash believes.

"No need is expected for using the SLS carrier rocket for delivering domestic payloads," Roscosmos’ research institute said.

Russia plans to develop a super-heavy rocket on the basis of the Fenix medium-class launcher that will be used as the first stage. The Fenix project financing will begin in 2018.

Roscosmos Deputy Head Sergey Savelyev said in late May that Russia offered other countries to jointly develop a super-heavy carrier rocket. Russia’s federal space program for 2016-2025 does not envisage payloads requiring a super-heavy carrier rocket.

Infographics Russia’s Moon exploration program

Russia’s Moon exploration program

Russia is developing a new generation Advanced Crew Transportation System. Its first flight to the Moon is planned for 2028. Infographics by TASS

Lunar program

As was reported earlier, the first stage of the manned exploration of the Moon requires the use of an Angara heavy carrier rocket. A short expedition to the Moon will require four launches of an Angara-A5V rocket with an increased lifting capacity while a long stay will require six launches. Considering specific fuel components, all the launches will have to be carried out within a short timeframe. For this purpose, both the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Russian Far East and the Plesetsk military spaceport are expected to be used.

Russian cosmonauts may perform the first manned flight to the Moon aboard the Federatsiya new-generation spacecraft in 2029. A year before that, there are plans to make a flight around the Moon, test and qualify space equipment for the subsequent manned landing.

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