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Apr 25, 2022
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Russia may build laboratories on the dark side of the moon

Russia may build laboratories on the dark side of the moon

Photo: /Keystone Press Agency/Global Look Press

Russia intends this year to take an important step in the exploration of the moon. At the same time, the main questions concerning the lunar program, such as the prospects for research, their cost and, in general, their necessity, continue to remain deeply rhetorical and lie exclusively in the plane of “high” philosophy.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin on Cosmonautics Day at the Vostochny cosmodrome under construction, he recalled Russia’s ambitious plans for the development of the Earth’s natural satellite. “In the third quarter, the Luna-25 station should be implemented,” the head of state said. According to the head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozinthe plan should indeed be carried out in the near future.

The Luna-25 program itself involves the launch of two vehicles: a station for sampling and analyzing the planet’s soil from a depth of up to two meters and an unmanned spacecraft that should receive signals from the device in orbit around the moon. It is supposed to explore the south pole of the satellite, on which, as scientists suggest, there may be deposits of ice.

The study of the natural satellite of our planet is considered extremely important from a scientific point of view. Research should bring mankind closer to answering questions about the evolution of the solar system and pave the way for the exploration of deep space and the possible expansion of mankind beyond the Earth.

The trouble is that the plans look as promising as they are hardly feasible. If you look at the history of lunar programs in different countries, then their prospects in general look simply fantastic.

After the launch of the first artificial satellite in 1957 and the first space flight Yuri Gagarin in 1961 it seemed to people that literally tomorrow “apple trees will bloom on Mars.” But the reality turned out to be much harsher. Even the exploration of the moon actually turned out to be a very expensive and insanely difficult task, and even without visible achievements. The Americans turned out to be the leader in the study of the Moon, who sent their astronauts to the cold planet six times. From a scientific point of view, and as a Cold War propaganda campaign, this was an achievement. But soon the United States decided that further participation in research was too costly even for the world’s leading power.

Approximately the same way they reacted to the case in our country. The USSR launched moon rovers, but in modern Russia this project was almost abandoned. A new player in the exploration of the moon is China. In recent years, he has carried out several successful launches of his devices. This gave impetus to the former leaders. Grandiose plans began to appear almost like building a permanently manned station on the Moon.

At the same time, everyone recognizes that no modern country can do this alone. But the situation on Earth is heating up in recent years to the limit. The United States does not want to enter into joint projects with China, European states also refuse to cooperate with it. For obvious reasons, all early projects on the joint exploration of space by Russia, the States and the European Union may also be forgotten.

True, there are agreements between the Russian Federation and China. It is assumed that the current Luna-25 program will be carried out by Russia independently, but the subsequent ones (Luna-26, Luna-27 and Luna-28) will be in close cooperation with the Chinese side. But if you look closely, then all these programs, designed for the next ten years, involve soil sampling, geodetic research, and surveying the surface of the moon. But even sending people there looks like an unsolvable task. Not to mention the construction of a habitable station.

And the most interesting thing is that the current Russian, American and Chinese programs are actually only repeating what was done almost six decades ago. For example, during the Chinese mission “Chang’e-3” in 2013, for the first time in 37 years, a soft landing of a lunar rover was made. By the way, the first after our last lunar program “Luna-24”, carried out already in 1976.

Added to this is the circumstance that space exploration is usually much more difficult than expected in theory. For example, the launch of the Luna-25 spacecraft has been postponed many times over the past few years.

So the question of whether it is necessary to explore the Moon and plan a visit to Mars becomes, to a large extent, almost a matter of faith. On the other hand, it is the belief in what seemed impossible that moves our civilization. And here it is appropriate to recall the reaction of scientists to the words of the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fedorov. At the end of the 19th century, he began to convince people of science that humanity faces two main tasks: to resurrect the dead and fly into space. Scientists answered that it was still possible to somehow learn to resurrect the dead, but in principle it was impossible to fly into space. Life has shown the opposite …

Space historian Alexander Zheleznyakov believes that humanity will have to go a long way before truly mastering the satellite of our planet:

– According to the Luna-25 program, the launch date is August 22 in the schedule. The launch is likely to take place this year. In general, the station is ready, it remains to carry out the adjustment work of the launch systems, there are no special obstacles. European devices, which were planned to be installed on the program’s devices, were long ago replaced by Russian counterparts, since sanctions against them have been in effect since 2014. So it was time for a rebuild.

There are some difficulties regarding subsequent programs in which the participation of European partners was supposed. But the stations are under construction. I hope there will be no big shifts in terms.

“SP”: – The lunar program can be carried out with the Chinese.

— There is a great desire to cooperate with China. A protocol of intent was signed on the lunar program, an intergovernmental agreement was concluded. But it will be possible to talk about this substantively only after agreeing on a plan of specific work. The Russian side has intentions, the interest of the Chinese is visible. But let’s see what happens in practice.

“SP”: – But is this lunar program needed at all?

“Humanity remains a biological species, and any species tends to expand its habitat. There are no free places left on the Earth, it is quite logical for mankind to look into space. The closest place to our planet is the Moon.

“SP”: – Why is the Moon interesting for people?

— The moon is an ideal space testing ground for the technology that will be used for deep space exploration. Whatever conditions are created on Earth, they will not fully correspond to those in which space technology will operate.

Secondly, there may be natural resources on the Moon that humanity needs. So far, there are only forecasts on this score. But it is not yet possible to understand how the Moon can attract us. It is necessary to carry out geological surveys, chemical studies and much more.

Thirdly, the Moon is an excellent scientific base. Laboratories on the dark side of the moon will allow you to look very deep into the universe. There is no lighting for technology. There is no atmosphere, and the temperature is close to absolute zero, which is just perfect for research.

Of course, it will be possible to potentially build new production facilities. On the Moon, gravity is six times lower than on Earth. So it will be possible to create new materials.
These are all the reasons that make different countries think about resuming flights to the moon. And not just to stake out some area on the surface, but to live and work there.

“SP”: – But now the countries are actually repeating past experience, there is almost no visible progress over the decades.

– If you do not believe in the prospects, then doing something does not make sense. Our grandchildren will see the fruits of our current efforts. But astronautics and space exploration is not a fast process. Humanity got off to a fast start in the 1960s. Then it seemed that we could handle all the tasks. But then it turned out that it was difficult to fly to the Moon, and Mars is very far away.
Now there is a rethinking, a new space technology is being created. To some extent, now we have to repeat the steps already taken. But without repeating them, we will not be able to move on. However, this is a completely normal logic of actions for humanity.

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