Moscow - In time for the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic first flight to space, Russian space scientists have prepared three programs to explore our solar system for the period until 2050.
Although differing in scale and costs, all of the proposed scenarios reach beyond the near-Earth orbit to the far cosmos. Chief of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency Anatoly Perminov unveils some details:
"The programs envisage flights to the Moon in the middle of the 2020s, the creation of Moon-based research laboratories in the 30s and first exploratory missions to Mars by the beginning of the 40s. The proposals are now being scrutinized. The ultimate choice will, of course, be determined by the government’s financial abilities. In my opinion, most of those projects could be implemented in cooperation with other countries. Take the Moon, for example. Lunar research and the creation of human settlements on the Moon could involve countries that are currently working on the International Space Station. This would minimize our expenses and would also make it possible to take rocket and space hardware from countries which are the best at making them, for instance, heavy carrier rockets from the Americans and manned spacecraft and descent modules from Russia."
Russia is looking into the possibility of creating a nuclear-powered transport and energy module having no analogues in the world and offering certain advantages in terms of space exploration. Anatoly Perminov:
"We have teamed up with [the state nuclear energy corporation] Rosatom to design and build such transport and energy units for an interplanetary flight, for the far space, for the exploration of such planets as Mars. The existing engines propelled by solid or liquid fuel will make an interplanetary flight too long, which is not safe for man. Here, flight duration could be shortened by dozens of times. Yet it does pose another challenge – we will need a radiation shield. We are going through all those issues."
The latter project is deemed as highly promising and has riveted the attention of other countries. Anatoly Perminov said that it too could be brought to life through international efforts. Russia is in turn ready to join space hotel construction planned by the United States. Russian specialists would be glad to provide the necessary assistance to make those seemingly incredible projects more reliable.
A large group of NASA officials under the U.S. space agency’s Administrator Charles Bolden will come to Moscow in the middle of April with the joint exploration of the solar system expected to be high on the agenda. As Anatoly Perminov said, both sides have something to offer each other.