Russia's Secret Plan To Occupy The Moon With Permanent Base Revealed

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It might not surprise you to learn that Russia has some pretty ambitious territorial ambitions over the next twenty years.

But on the Moon?

Vladimir Putin has reportedly outlined a plan to put a permanent Russian colony on the surface of the Moon by 2030.

The plan is detailed in a draft government program, prepared by the Russian Academy of Sciences, research institutions and the Roscosmos space agency, and published by the Izvestia newspaper.

The document outlines a three-stage plan which would start with robotic craft being sent to the Moon by 2016.

That move follows China's recent successful mission to place a robotic explorer on the surface. India and Japan are also preparing missions to explore the Moon, while Nasa - which last walked on the surface 42 years ago - also has designs on going back.

Russia's robotic explorers would be succeeded by manned missions to orbit the Moon in 2028. A final stage, planned for 2030, is planned in which humans would land on the Moon and create a permanent base for exploration, using local resources. The Moon base would likely be constructed with rocks and cement made from the Moon's surface.

the moon earth apollo

The Earth rising over the Moon, as seen in 1968 by astronauts aboard Apollo 8

The program would eventually lead to an Earth and space observatory on the Lunar surface. Russia also foresees its Moon base as a launchpad for missions into deeper space, and a "treasure trove" of valuable resources, possibly including water.

Russia says the plan is necessary in the face of what appears to be a new space race:

"Leading space powers will expand and establish their rights to convenient lunar footholds to ensure future opportunities for practical use," the plan says.

The first stage of the mission should cost around $815 million, according to the leaked document, with the following two stages costly vastly more. Russia says it wants to partner with private companies to make the missions happen, but maintains it will be remain a Russian program and not a collaboration with NASA, ESA or any other space agency.

"The independence of the national lunar program must be ensured regardless of the conditions and the extent of the participation in it by foreign partner," the report says.

Needless to say there are still a lot of unknowns here - not least whether Russia can actually afford it, and whether they have the technology to get to the Moon safely and stay there for an extended period. But what is clear from the document, and the stated aims of the world's other great space agencies, is that someone is going back to the Moon. It's just a case of when... and why.

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