Russian Moon Shot For 2015: Unmanned 'Lunar-Glob' Searches For Water
Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, has announced a new mission to schedule a 2015 launch of an unmanned probe to the moon.
Agency head Vladimir Popovkin announced on Tuesday that the lunar mission is an exploration for water and the gathering of soil samples. A sophisticated rocket will carry a 500 kg, or 1,100-pound, space exploration rover called "Luna-Glob" as well as an additional 25 kg, or 55 pounds, worth of scientific equipment to conduct the research.
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The rocket will be positioned for launch at its Far East launch pad, the Vostochny cosmodrome. Just last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged a $1 billion funding for the new launch site as the dated Baikonur launch facility of Kazakhstan becomes obsolete.
The Luna-Glob launch mission is actually the first of four planned moon missions by the Russian space agency. Beyond soil and water samples, the mission will monitor high-energy cosmic rays with plasma sensors as well.
The Luna-Glob moon exploration mission were proposed as early as 2010 but delays have pushed the mission back in a number of occasions.
Russia's first and only moon mission was conducted in the 1970s. The new missions mark a rebirth of Russia's space industry. Plans for a manned mission to the moon are slated for 2018.
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