Russia is preparing a national concept for Moon exploration by March 2019, according to the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin. This news comes after the U.S. national space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), put forward its Lunar Gateway project which will see the agency construct a gateway to act as a “single stepping off point in architecture for human cislunar operations, lunar surface operations and missions to Mars.”
The U.S. is inviting participation in the project and construction of the Gateway from other participants of the International Space Station (ISS). However, director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Anatoly Petrukovich, told Sputnik that the Russian alternative could offer up the opportunity for other space activities to international participants and result in an alternative to the U.S. project.
Petrukovich was quoted as saying: “Any movement toward the Moon is so expensive and complicated that it hardly can be done without international cooperation. So far in the world, with the exception of the U.S. proposal to create a lunar-orbit station, there are no well-developed programmes that other countries could carry out. We intend to offer Russian vision that could be discussed with foreign partners.”
Last year, Rogozin had put forward the upgraded Soyuz as a potential vehicle for manned lunar flights to act as an interim solution before the new Federation spacecraft nears completion, a programme which has been in progress since 2009. He also stated that Roscosmos is expecting “new negotiating positions” regarding the Gateway and the upgraded Soyuz for lunar flights.