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Russian project to build moon orbiter estimated at over $33.5 million

November 17, 6:15 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The orbiter is to be manufactured until February 29, 2020

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© Marina Lystseva/TASS

MOSCOW, November 17. /TASS/. The project to build the Luna-Resurs lunar orbiter, to be implemented by 2020, is estimated at almost 2 billion rubles (over $33.5 million at the current exchange rate), according to information published by the official government procurement website.

"The initial (maximum) price of the contract is 1.995 billion rubles," reads a federal procurement document.

According to the website, the project will be financed from the federal government. The main contractor, the NPO Lavochkin aerospace company, will receive an advance payment of almost 1.6 billion rubles, or 80% of the contract’s total value.

The orbiter is to be manufactured until February 29, 2020. Its weight should not exceed 2,200 kilograms.

The last Soviet lunar mission was sent in 1976 when the Luna-24 probe made a soft landing, collected soil samples and returned them to the Earth.

According to earlier reports, the lunar project is expected to resume in 2019, when the Luna-25 (formerly known as Luna-Glob) automated probe will be sent to explore the Moon’s South Pole. The module is expected to land in the Boguslavsky crater.

At the next stage, Russia will launch the Luna-Resurs (Luna-26) orbital spacecraft, which will operate in the near-Moon circular polar orbit at an altitude of 200 km for about twelve months. The spacecraft will be gathering and transmitting information to the Earth from the landing station. It will also help carry out research using equipment for the Moon’s remote exploration.

After that, a lander with a cryogenic in-depth drilling rig will be dispatched to the Moon’s South Pole. It will be outfitted with a system capable of considerably increasing the landing accuracy to 3 km.

The fourth stage of the lunar program plans to send a Luna-Grunt (Moon-Soil) automated space station. It will feature a soil-sampling vehicle and means for sampling and thermostatting (the conservation of soil samples for their delivery to the Earth in their original form) of soil samples and the system for sample delivery to the Earth for further research.

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