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Russia Considering a National Moon Mission

Oct. 31. 2019 (EIRNS)—Sergey Krikalev, a veteran cosmonaut who represented the Russian space agency at the Oct. 21-25 International Astronautical Congress, said he expects Russia will be a partner of NASA’s Gateway program. “We are planning to participate in Gateway,” Krikalev said. “We don’t have a final decision how and which way, but for sure what we’ve said before is international cooperation is important. It’s important for Russia to stay together with our partners.”

Aligning Russia’s national goals with the international lunar exploration architecture will require more work, according to Krikalev. “Of course, we will develop our own national program,” Krikalev said. “The problem now is this program needs [to be] adjusted.... So we need to clarify what we are going to do with the Russian program, and see how this program will be joined together with the Gateway program.”

Russia is planning to develop a new crew vehicle named Orel designed to carry humans into deep space. If launched, it would be Russia’s first spacecraft to ferry crews beyond low Earth orbit. Krikalev said the Federation spacecraft would be used for crew and cargo transportation to the Gateway, offering a backup in case of a problem with the Space Launch System rocket or the Orion crew vehicle. Krikalev also said Russia may build and launch a module for the Gateway itself.

“From the very beginning, we said that our primary goal was the surface” of the Moon.  Krikalev said. “That’s why we were late joining the Gateway program, because we were trying to optimize what is the best trajectory to fly. Actually, there are advantages and disadvantages of the Gateway’s trajectory, but overall, we said that the most efficient way would be to work together. “We think the redundant transportation systems and one of the modules of the Gateway will be our participation in the program, and the way and how we will do this, we will decide this later,” he said.

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