MOSCOW (AFP) — Russia plans to send a manned mission to the Moon by 2025 and wants to build a permanent base there shortly after, the head of Russian space agency Roskosmos said Friday.
"According to our estimates we will be ready for a manned flight to the Moon in 2025," Anatoly Perminov told reporters. An "inhabited station" could be built there between 2027 and 2032, he said.
Laying out Roskmosmos' plans for the next three decades, Perminov said that Russia's space programme receives less than 10 percent the funding the US programme receives, yet retains great ambitions.
Russia intends to complete construction of its section of the International Space Station by 2015 so that the ISS "becomes a fully-fledged space research centre," he said.
"Major modernisation" will also be carried out to the Soyuz craft used to ferry people and cargo to the space station.
An expedition to Mars remains a long-term ambition for Roskosmos, which hopes to mount manned flights there after 2035, he said.
Many difficulties linked to the planet's extreme physical conditions remain unresolved, however. "Current spacecraft do not provide the protection needed for the crew to survive and return to Earth," he said.
The expected two- to three-year duration of the voyage would also involve huge challenges in terms of storage space and stress on the crew, he said.
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