Russia will build the first permanent lunar base in 2015.



Nikolai Sevastyanov :
MOSCOW. (Yury Zaitsev for RIA Novosti) - Nikolai Sevastyanov, president of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, said Russia will build the first permanent lunar base in 2015.
NASA managers claim that U.S. astronauts will land on the Moon in 2018 and manned lunar bases will subsequently be established. Chinese scientists are also spotlighting their intention to exploit the Moon's natural resources. However, delivering payloads from the Earth to the Moon and back is a major problem hindering the Moon's colonization. The same can be said about future manned missions to Mars.

Chemical-propellant launch vehicles with hydrogen-oxygen engines will not prove effective in this case. For instance, the Proton rocket, with a 650-metric-ton lift-off weight, orbits 22-metric-ton spacecraft and can also launch 6.5-metric-ton interplanetary probes (that is 1% of the lift-off weight). Preliminary estimates show that a Martian mission would involve a 600-metric-ton spacecraft, which cannot lift off from the Earth. Consequently, its components must be assembled in outer space. But it would take 100 Proton rockets with a total lift-off weight of 65,000 metric tons to orbit all spacecraft elements.

Nor can Russia's heavier Angara space system provide the solution. The U.S. Apollo Moon program, which relied heavily on Saturn V launch vehicles in the 1960s, proved a dead-end option because one Saturn V rocket costs $2 billion to operate. Moreover, the United States will spend an estimated $10 billion on a new heavy-duty launch vehicle featuring Space Shuttle components and due to cost the same $2 billion per launch.

Nikolai Sevastyanov is a president of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation,


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