Russia, US and other partners in the International Space Station project are discussing plans for creating two manned stations orbiting the Moon, the executive director of the Roscosmos corporation for manned space programs, Sergey Krikalyov, has told TASS in an interview.
"International groups are considering several options of creating near-Moon infrastructure- in a high elliptical orbit and in a low orbit about 100 kilometers above the Moon’s surface," he said. One may be used to send space probes into deep space, and the other, for missions on the Moon’s surface.
"It is not ruled out that infrastructures will be created in both orbits," Krikalyov said.
He explained that a high elliptical orbit would make it possible to carry out activities around the Moon and send missions towards targets in deep space, including asteroids, while the near-Moon orbit would better match the purpose of sending regular missions to the Moon’s surface.
Krikalyov said that international cooperation was crucial to the Moon projects under consideration. It would link up national programs for the Moon’s exploration with automatic probes and manned Moon projects into one whole.
Russia’s space rocket corporation Energiya at the end of last September came up with a proposal for starting the construction of a near-Moon orbital platform at the end of 2022.
Earlier, it was announced that Energiya and Boeing were working on a joint project for creating two configurations of a near-Moon orbiter: two smaller inhabitable space modules or one larger module. A super-heavy rocket being developed by NASA would be used to deliver the station’s components and its crew to an orbit around the Moon. Both concepts imply the station will have a crew of four. The duration of space missions is estimated at 30 days to 360 days. Flights to the near-Moon station will be made once a year.
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