Russian Space Agency Plans Unmanned Moon Flight in 2015

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By Vittorio Hernandez | January 16, 2013 4:09 PM EST

While NASA had been on a long vacation from moon journeys and a Dutch company aims to send the first inhabitants from earth to the planet Mars by 2023, Russia is playing catch up as global interest in the space grows.

The Russian Space Agency announced on Tuesday that it will send an unmanned mission to be Moon in 2015 and after that it will deploy three more lunar explorations in the next five years from a cosmodrome currently under construction in Russia's Far East region.

Russia also plans visits to Mars, Jupiter and Venus by 2030.

The agency will launch Luna-Glob-1 from the Cosmodrome Vostochny, announced Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin. The other moon missions will be launched using Soyuz-2 rocket boosters.

The agency revised its timetable and modules' technical designs after the crash of the ambitious Phobos-Grunt module in November 2011. Initially, three moon missions were slated for launch in 2013 and 2014 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

As a result, Luna-Glob-2's launch was moved to 2016 and Luna-Resurs to 2017. The latter, a three-ton Russian-Indian module, will carry advanced scientific equipment.

Instead of the usual 34 kilogrammes, the Luna-Glob-1 will be loaded with only 20 kilogrammes of scientific equipment. The module, which weighs 1.2 tonnes, was stripped of its drilling devices, making its main task the test of a new surface landing platform.

If the launches will push through as planned, it will end the four-decade halt to Russia's moon ventures, the last of which was way back in 1973 when the country was still part of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union actually send a probe to the Moon way back in 1959 and the first person into space in 1961, but the U.S. beat them to a moon landing in 1969.

With the Russian space programming raring to go into places once seen only from powerful telescopes, pundits are asking if the moon and other cosmic missions will have as background music aboard its lunar trips Frank Sinatra's classic Fly Me to the Moon

or Matt Monro's hit From Russia with Love.

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