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Russia launches work to create module for landing cosmonauts on Moon

The flight development tests of Russia’s promising super-heavy carrier rocket will be held in two stages

MOSCOW, July 3. /TASS/. Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation has started creating a module for landing cosmonauts on the Moon, Energia said in an annual report on Tuesday.

"Work has been launched to develop the technical design of the lunar take-off and landing module, for which a super-heavy carrier rocket will be used for its delivery to the near-Moon orbit," the document says.

Parts of the take-off and landing module will be delivered to the Deep Space Gateway international lunar orbital platform in their disassembled state where they will be finally assembled and stored and where their maintenance will be carried out, according to Energia’s report.

"The Gateway station will make it possible to test the basic technologies for the crew’s stay in deep space and deliver the first missions of automated and manned spacecraft to the Moon’s surface, and also test technologies and elements as part of preparations for the manned missions to Mars," the report says.

As TASS reported earlier, the flight development tests of Russia’s promising super-heavy carrier rocket will be held in two stages from 2028 to 2035.

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 Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, that preliminary work was underway with the US Boeing Company on the issues of creating the 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.

Energia Rocket and Space Corporation 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.

In late September 2017, Roscosmos and NASA signed a statement at the international astronautical congress in Adelaide (Australia) in late September 2017, which reflected both parties’ intention to jointly work on the implementation of space exploration initiatives. Both sides stated their intention to plan work on creating the habitable outpost in the near-Moon space.

According to Energia’s materials, the first landing of Russian cosmonauts is planned for 2030.