We knew Russia had ambitious plans for interplanetary exploration, and on Tuesday, an announcement from the head of the country’s space agency really drove that point home. Russia wants to go to the Moon; and they want to stay there.
“We’re not talking about repeating what mankind achieved 40 years ago,” said Vladimir Popovkin, head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, at Tuesday’s Global Space Exploration Conference in Washington, D.C. “We’re talking about establishing permanent bases.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Russia talk ambitious plans for the Moon; back in March, leaked documents outlined a number of the country’s deep space mission objectives (including sending probes to Jupiter and Venus, and conducting “a demonstrative manned circumlunar test flight, with the subsequent landing of cosmonauts on [the Moon's] surface”); but it’s the context of Tuesday’s announcement that makes it especially noteworthy.
For one thing, Russia’s not alone in their lunar ambitions; Japan has made its interests in Moon exploration clear, as well. Nor is Russia alone in its willingness to work with other countries in achieving its goals; the benefits of international collaboration, were, after all, a central theme at Tuesday’s space summit. Which calls attention to something important about Tuesday’s multinational conference: America’s conspicuous absence. Writes Nature News Blog’s Eric Hand:
CONTINUED at io9.