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Russian space agency to start preparations for flight to Mars

Roscosmos will also be glad to see NASA join the effort

MOSCOW, July 14. /TASS/. Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos will launch work in 2019 to prepare for a flight to the Red Planet and invites NASA to join it, the Roscosmos press office reported on Friday.

"It is at least early to say that humans will fly to Mars in 2025 or in 2030. Roscosmos follows the strategy of practicing technologies on the Moon: a take-off, landing, an inter-planetary flight, protection from radiation and processes in the human’s body. Also, it is necessary to practice many things with the help of automats before sending a human to Mars. And Roscosmos will implement this program. It will start in 2019," the corporation said.

Roscosmos will also be glad to see NASA join the effort, the press office said.

Roscosmos thus commented on a statement by NASA Human Exploration and Operations Head Bill Gerstenmaier that the US space agency would be unable to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s, given the current level of financing.

"The mission of flying to Mars is not so much a financial as a technical task and there are huge problems and challenges, which scientists and engineers face. We have not yet solved them at the current stage of technological development. The key issues during a flight to Mars relate to the provision of radiation safety for the spacecraft’s crew members and vehicles to deliver cosmonauts to the Red Planet. These tasks have not been solved yet and NASA understands this," Roscosmos said.

However, Roscosmos did not specify the program it would launch in 2019. According to Roscosmos’ plans, the first of a series of Russian lunar stations (Luna-25) is expected to be sent to the Moon this year. As part of the mission, scientists and engineers plan to practice again the technology of automatic landing on the Moon as the last domestic lunar mission was dispatched in 1976.