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Russian cosmonauts to make first flight to near-Moon station in 2027

January 23, 18:19 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The cosmonauts will reach the lunar space station aboard a Federatsiya spacecraft with the help of the developmental version of a Russian super-heavy rocket

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© Yuri Smityuk/TASS

MOSCOW, January 23. /TASS/. Russian cosmonauts will make their first flight to an international lunar station under the Deep Space Gateway program in 2027, according to a presentation report unveiled by Energiya Rocket and Space Corporation on Tuesday.

The cosmonauts will reach the lunar space station aboard a Federatsiya spacecraft with the help of the developmental version of a Russian super-heavy rocket, the presentation says.

"The unmanned and manned flights [of the perspective transport spacecraft] to the DSG international space station are planned for 2027. The developmental modification of a super-heavy rocket will be used as a launcher," the presentation says, outlining a plan of a flight under the Russian lunar program.

The rocket’s developmental version will have a weight of 1,440 tonnes and a maximum lifting capacity of 50 tonnes. The rocket’s first stage will use the first three stages of a Soyuz-5 carrier: one central and two side blocs.

As Energiya’s materials indicate, the Russian cosmonauts are expected to make their first landing in 2030, as was planned before. For this purpose, a super-heavy rocket of the first phase of the lunar program will be used.

According to Energyia’s data, the super-heavy rocket of the first phase of the lunar program will have a weight of 2,800 tonnes and a lifting capacity of 88 tonnes. Five side blocs of the first stage of the Soyuz-5 carrier will be mounted on the rocket’s first stage.

Deep Space Gateway project

The plans to create a near-Moon station were unveiled in the spring of 2016. TASS reported at that time, citing the documents of Energiya Rocket and Space Corporation, that preliminary work was under way with the US Boeing Company on the issues of creating near-Moon infrastructure in support of the national space agencies’ future plans.

Two options of the lunar orbital station project were considered: an orbiter based on two small residential modules or one big module. Both concepts stipulate that four persons can work aboard the station. Expeditions are expected to last from 30 to 360 days. The flights to the station will be performed once a year.

Two options are also on the table for the station’s accommodation: a highly elliptical orbit and a low orbit at an altitude of about 100 km above the Moon’s surface. The first option can be used for the launch of spacecraft into outer space and the second for expeditions to the surface of the Earth’s natural satellite.

Energiya Rocket and Space Corporation earlier proposed starting the creation of the near-Moon orbital platform in late 2022 and send the first crew to it in the first half of 2025.

According to public sources, NASA’s plans suggest that the first module may be sent to the near-Moon orbit in 2023. This will be the Power and Propulsion Bus. In 2024, two residential modules will be added to it. The modules are expected to be launched with the help of a US SLS heavy-class carrier rocket while the crews will be delivered aboard Orion space vehicles. There are also plans to develop a resupply ship.

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