First Russian lunar mission in decades to start from Vostochny

Russia will launch the Luna-Globe-1 spacecraft from its new space center Vostochny in the Amur region in 2015, Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin told reporters on Tuesday.

"Luna-Globe will be the first spacecraft launched from Vostochny in 2015," Popovkin said.

The first launch of a new-generation spacecraft to replace Soyuz manned spaceships is due in 2018, the Roscosmos head said.

Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Space Research Institute Lev Zelyony told Interfax-AVN earlier that Russia would halve the scientific payload of Luna-Globe-1 for the sake of its safe landing on the Moon.

It was also reported that Luna-Globe-1 would be launched with a Soyuz-2 rocket. The research rover will weigh about 1,400 kilograms, including fuel. The landing module will weigh about 500 kilograms, 20-25 kilograms accounting for scientific payload. The landing module will carry gadgets, which will search for water, and a robotic arm to research soil samples.

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