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Russian lunar missions delayed over unprepared Baikonur spaceport infrastructure

July 19, 13:12 UTC+3 ZHUKOVSKY

It was reported earlier that three missions to the Earth’s natural satellite were scheduled aboard Soyuz carrier rockets in 2019-2021

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© Egor Aleev/TASS

ZHUKOVSKY, July 19. /TASS/. Two Russian missions to the Moon have been rescheduled as the Baikonur spaceport’s ground infrastructure can’t hold simultaneous preparations for flights to the Earth’s natural satellite and Mars, Lavochkin Research and Production Association CEO Sergei Lemeshevsky said on Wednesday.

"As was planned before, further lunar steps involve the Luna Resource Orbital project and the Luna Resource Lander project. In this regard, we can, indeed, say that the schedule has been shifted to 2021 and 2022. It is surely impossible to work with two planetary missions at Baikonur at a time," he said.

Russia earlier planned the Luna-26 (Luna-Resource Orbital) mission for 2020. The second stage of the mission to Mars is also scheduled for the same term (ExoMars-2020).

The launches of lunar missions may be returned from the Vostochny spaceport in the Russian Far East to the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as Russia’s new space center lacks the necessary infrastructure, Lemeshevsky said.

"Lunar programs from the Vostochny spaceport were discussed but there is no final decision yet. A lot of additional expenses arise there. This relates to the requirements for cleanliness and for work with radioactive isotopes. The question is whether it is expedient to invest extremely large funds in the Vostochny," the Lavochkin chief executive said.

"Technically, the issue has been worked out. We can make launches even from the Vostochny. But there are currently no such premises at the Vostochny and they have to be built. These are not Lavochkin’s expenses. These are the costs of preparing the cosmodrome," he noted.

It was reported earlier that three missions to the Earth’s natural satellite were scheduled aboard Soyuz carrier rockets in 2019-2021: Luna-25, Luna-26 and Luna-27.

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