The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) is planning to start designing a Lunar Orbital Station (LOS) in 2020, according to a draft of the 2016-2025 federal space program sent by Roscosmos to the government for consideration.
"Technical proposals over the LOS creation will be submitted in 2020," the document says.
Initial designs of equipment will be prepared in 2022; its ground testing will begin in 2024.
In 2025, Roscosmos will approve initial designs for the LOS modules, according to the program's draft. Roscosmos has asked for a 2.6 billion rubles ($72.2 million) funding for this part of the project before 2025.
The LOS will include a Laboratory Module, an Energy Module, and a Node Module for docking of spacecraft.
Under the document, the Laboratory Module will be an upgraded version of the Oka-T-2 autonomous laboratory, whose predecessor ("Oka-T") is currently being developed by the Rocket and Space Corporation Energia.
The module will weigh up to eight tonnes and have a service life of around seven years. It will be designed for conducting research experiments and producing material under autonomous space flight conditions. It will also be possible to use it along with other modules, i.e. as part of the station. Orbital tests of the Oka-T-2 module will begin with its space launch in 2024.
Under the draft document, the creation of the Oka-T-2 is a separate program. The project costs 14.5 billion rubles ($402.7 million).
A source in the space rocket industry told Interfax-AVN that the Energy Module of the lunar orbital station will be based on a scientific energy module currently developed by Energia Corporation for the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS), and the Node Module, on its analogue created by the same company for the ISS.
Apart from the modules, in 2022-2024 Roscosmos is planning to make and test, both on the Earth and in space, a manipulation system for seizing and carrying cargo and for impact-free docking of modules and spacecraft.
The system will be an analogue of the Canadian robotic arm operating on the ISS that seizes and docks Japanese and U.S. commercial spacecraft to the U.S. segment of the ISS and helps move cargo between modules.
Roscosmos has estimated this project at 1.3 billion rubles ($36.1 million).
Apart from hardware development, the draft document also involves the creation of prospective medical and life-sustaining systems for the LOS crew. Total cost of this project is around 700 million rubles ($19 million).
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