Russian push for 2012 Moon shot

by Chris Bergin

The head of the Russian Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, Nikolai Sevastianov has said a Russian Moon landing would be possible by 2012 to 2014, if it gains Government support.

The fast track possibilty would involve a Soyuz spacecraft and modifications, with the total cost of the a three shot plan to the Moon costing no more than $2 billion dollars.

‘We could land (on the Moon) as soon as by 2012 or 2014 with the help of Soyuz spacecraft,’ said Sevatianov the Vedomosti Business Daily. ‘(However,) the flight to the Moon can only be financed by the government – and for the time being the issue is not on its agenda.’
The plan, which Sevastianov is pushing to Russian Government to seriously consider, involves three manned expeditions to the Moon.
The first being an orbital flight around the Moon, a second taking the next stage of a circular orbit and release of an unmanned lunar lander to the surface, before a third manned flight would see Cosmonauts landing and stepping out on the Moon, just as the United States achieved in 1969.

While the US Apollo missions hold the debut of manned missions to the Moon, the goals now involve an expanded mandate, with the Moon being the first step towards manned missions to Mars.
While the Americans continue to have budgetting issues, they currently have a target of a manned return to the Moon in 2018. With that in mind, Sevastianov’s plan effectively aims to give the Russians a head start in the ‘race’ to landing the first men on Mars.
NASA has not gone into detail on their Mars aims – by way of specific timelines – as they concentrate on the opening stages of the Vision for Space Exploration. However, the Russians have already gone on the record in announcing a wish to work with the Chinese on a potential manned mission to the Red Planet by 2020.

Meanwhile, Interfax is reporting that the launch of a US AMS-23/WorldSat-3 telecommunications satellite on a Proton-M carrier rocket with a Briz-M upper stage from Baikonur has been set for 5:28 am Moscow time, December 6.

The launch is for telecommunications services provider, SES Americom, US, which is part of SES Global.

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