Russian and European space agencies to work together sending astronauts to the moon

Joint project, led by Russian agency, will attempt to create a permanent settlement on the moon

Rose Troup Buchanan
Friday 16 October 2015 18:10 BST
Could humans establish a permanent base on the moon?
Could humans establish a permanent base on the moon? (Getty, Hulton Archive)

European and Russian space agencies will work together in a series of missions attempting to create a permanent human settlement on the moon.

The first stage of the joint venture, christened Luna 27, is set for launch in five years time.

Led by the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos, in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) the project is a continuation of the 1970s exploration programme of the moon.

“The 21st century will be the century when it will be the permanent outpost of human civilisation, and our country has to participate in this process," Luna 27’s leading scientist Professor Igor Mitrofanov, of the Space Research Institute in Moscow, told the BBC.

Bérengère Houdou, head of the lunar exploration group at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (Estec), agrees. He said there are “discussions at international level” for “broad cooperation on how to go back to the Moon."

Although Roscosmos is leading the project, the Esa are developing new landing equipment, as well as a reinforced drill that scientists hope will allow them to investigate the moon’s ice.

Researchers believe the previously unexplored south pole, parts of which are constantly shrouded in darkness, contain ice which may become a future resource.

Esa will also provide a mini-laboratory, named ProSPA, which will be used by astronauts to evaluate their findings.

The European agency’s involvement is awaiting a final decision from EU ministers, expected late next year, but top members of both Russian and European agencies have voiced support for the project.

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