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MOSCOW, November 15. /TASS/. Russia’s rocket and space corporation Energiya plans to land the first Russian on the Moon in 2031, Energiya CEO Vladimir Solntsev said on Tuesday.
"After 2025, the start of flights to the Moon and the start of the work to become accustomed to this artificial satellite are planned. The year 2026 will see an unmanned flight around the Moon and in 2027 we’ll launch a take-off and landing module to the Moon’s orbit," he said.
The module will land on the Moon in an automatic mode, he added. "In 2029, there will be an unmanned flight of a new spacecraft to the Moon’s orbit. In the 2030s, we set the task of a manned flight to the Moon and in 2031 we plan landing on the Moon," he said.
As the Central Research Institute of Machine-Building told TASS earlier, Russia’s future Moon exploration program envisages flights around the Moon and the landing of cosmonauts on its surface, as well as their delivery to the Lagrange point of the Earth-Moon system (the equilibrium point of the two celestial bodies’ gravitational forces).
According to Solntsev, partner countries involved in the International Space Station project are discussing the possibility of prolonging the ISS life cycle till 2028.
"We have an effective document on the ISS operation till 2024. The question remains open what will happen after that. The ISS life cycle may be prolonged. At the moment 2028 is being discussed as a possibility," he said.
Earlier, the operation of the ISS was extended till 2024. The decision was announced by Russia, the United States, Canada and Japan. The European Space Agency is still in the process of mulling this issue as part of its long-term budget. NASA’s Charles Bolden said the station might stay in operation till 2028.
Russia is inviting Europe and the United States to jointly develop a module for landing on the Moon, Solntsev said.
"A take-off and landing module [for a flight to the Moon] is a completely new development, which I believe we’ll be making together with our European and American partners. We’re inviting all the countries for participation and the development of new samples of space hardware and the implementation of the lunar program," he said.