"We will soon propose to our government a project to construct a low-orbit complex, which could serve as a foundation for the implementation of the Lunar programme and later on — the Mars programme," the Director of space agency Roskosmos' Manned Flight Programmes, Alexei Krasnov announced.
Krasnov said the proposed low-orbit complex would also be used to assemble spacecraft for interplanetary manned flights, as it would be very expensive and technically complicated task to directly launch them from the Earth.
Addressing a press conference here, Krasnov said that like many other nations Russia is viewing the Moon as a destination in a mid-term perspective, and would want not only to go there, but to establish a lunar base, which would allow it to start exploring Mars in the future.
"These are our intentions, but we are working hard to ensure that these plans get adequate financial and legislative support from the Government," Krasnov said, expressing hope that the project could materialised by 2020.
Russia, a pioneer in automated lunar research, intends to partner with ISRO in Chandrayan-2 project of unmanned flight to the Moon, which would also include a lunar orbiter.
The ex-Soviet Union abandoned its lunar exploration programme after the losing the lunar race to U.S. in manned Moon missions in the mid-1970s.
If they don't use it much themselves, they could certainly sell services to private ventures to help pay for program costs.
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