MOSCOW, March 4 (RIA Novosti) – The head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said Tuesday that developing technologies for robotic exploration of the moon and Mars is a priority.
Oleg Ostapenko said in an interview with state newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta that the agency would boost its unmanned space probe efforts ahead of three missions to the moon.
The first mission, the long-delayed Luna-25, is slated to launch in 2016 and land at the moon’s south pole.
The next two missions will include an orbiter to monitor the moon in 2018 and a polar lander with a drill to search for water ice in 2019.
Subsequent missions are planned to deploy a robotic base on the moon and bring lunar soil back to Earth for analysis.
Ostapenko was appointed head of Roscosmos in October amid a shakeup of the country’s space industry following a string of failures of launch vehicles and spacecraft.
Fobos-Grunt, the country’s most recent interplanetary probe, was intended to return soil from the Martian moon Phobos to Earth but failed shortly after launch in 2011.